Assmus: Improve campus security year-round

Before the start of the Republican National Convention in which hundreds of “peace officers” were housed on campus, President Barbara R. Snyder sent out an email to the student body. She explained that the decision to close campus for classes and cancel other activities was in response to recent violent acts such as those in Dallas and Baton Rouge: “No matter how remote or unlikely it might be that Case Western Reserve University could experience violence, university leaders had a responsibility to try to lower the risk to our community—while also ensuring that critical functions could continue. The most effective path to that goal, we concluded, was to reduce the number of people on campus.”

The problem is, violent acts occur year-round in this county. Debate about gun control aside, I think that it is important for the university to be concerned about campus security year-round and use the week of the RNC as a learning opportunity to improve security measures across campus. Although large events like the RNC will not occur throughout the school year in Cleveland, concerns about security within classrooms and dorms on campus should always be important.

CWRU sends out security alerts and seems to be cautious about security during the school year, such as the instance where it shut down most of Bellflower Road for a suspicious object in the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations that turned out to be a medical training prop. However during the school year most buildings are still easily accessible and measures like having to swipe your Case One Card to get into buildings like Kelvin Smith Library are not that secure.

For example, I have been to the library a few times where I forgot my CWRU ID card and let the student at the front desk know that I forgot it. Not once have I been asked to show my state-issued ID card, which is the current policy for non-CWRU students who are supposed to show some form of ID, like a passport or an ID from another institution. I have also brought my brother to the library before and he has never been asked to show a form of ID after telling the student that he does not go to CWRU. If IDs are not being checked according to policy, then I assume that anyone could come into the library.

Many buildings on campus are equipped with technology that lets faculty and students scan their cards in order to get into them, like all of the dorms. Some buildings use this policy during after hours, and others only allow for one door to be open—such as Mather Memorial Building—to decrease the likelihood of anyone just walking into the building that does not have a reason to be there.

Although it can create a hassle if a student forgets their ID and doesn’t stop someone from walking in behind another student, the swipe technology is something I feel should be utilized more on all buildings in campus. For example, anyone can walk into Guildford House. There isn’t a front desk where someone can monitor who comes and goes, and most all of the lecture buildings on the quad are open from the quad side.

I am concerned about the lack of security and the possibility that anyone could walk into most buildings on campus without being checked for any kind of weapon. Acts of terrorism such as mass shootings within populated areas make me feel unsafe more than reports of muggings or attempted ones here and there throughout the school year.

It is important to continue to think of ways to improve security in the outside areas on campus to stop minor crimes, but it is also important to think of security within classrooms and buildings. This is necessary in order to provide a safe learning environment amidst the violent attacks that the country witnessed in the past months and years, and that may continue into the future.
Abby is a graduate bioethics and social work student.