The new Ram e-Card, popular for its interactive features, now provides swipe access into all residence halls, a system that electronically detects student identification cards before granting entrance into the buildings.The swipe card system its purpose to enhance resident hall security was introduced to students at the beginning of the spring semester. During the hours of 4 p.m. to 8 a.m., seven days a week, all students wishing to enter the dormitories are required to check themselves in with their Ram e-Card.
“The system checks the main data base, verifies that the student has been approved for access to that building, then releases the magnetic lock so that the door can be opened,” said Director of Housing Services Peter Galloway, adding that each resident must repeat the same process once the door is locked.
The plan is to eventually keep the system activated 24-hours a day, following the same path many other colleges and universities have taken. According to Galloway, if swipe access proves to be successful at West Chester, there may be a change in how security guards are used in the residence halls.
“We are still discussing what role the security guards will have in the residence halls and in the residential area on campus,” he said. “The guards will not totally be replaced, but they may take on different roles. We hope to have these issues resolved by the end of the spring semester.”
A 24-hour security system will not require staff to be assigned to observe the building each hour of the day. Although security guards will still play a vital role in maintaining a secure environment in and around the residence halls, Galloway hopes that the card system will prove to be even more efficient, and come at less of a cost.
“While having staff on site to monitor who comes in a building can be a very effective method, it is also very expensive over time given the wages and benefits that staff accrue,” he said. “By installing the card access hardware and software, we can provide additional security at a minimal additional cost once the initial investment is paid off.”
While any form of security is always beneficial to the university, Galloway mentioned that students have an equal responsibility when it comes to upholding safety in the residence halls.
“Any system or set of staff can be very helpful in providing security on a campus,” he said, “but the best tool we have to ensure student safety is [the] students – using common sense, adhering to the policies in place, and alerting staff to unusual situations are all important in keeping a campus community safe.”
Residents on campus have made adjustments to their daily routines to become more assimilated with the technology and how it is used, but as one student said, the university is making a good choice using the swipe access system.
“I think it?s a great idea, and I hope to see it more often used during the night hours,” said junior AJ Davis. “It can get frustrating sometimes dealing with security guards because they like to hassle you. A swipe system is good, and if there aren?t any technical problems with it, I think it will be much easier and certainly less stressful.”
The only notable problem with the system is that it isn?t completely “functional,” according to Galloway, but any concern about the operation should not be considered a serious issue.
“Due to some material and installation issues, the system is not yet totally in place,” he said. “With the limited amount of time we have been able to use the system, it appears to be functioning as we expected and we are pleased with what it can do.
Undoubtedly, there will be some concerns we will need to work through once we go to a fully functional system, but we should be able to work through these.”
The future of the swipe access system in residence halls seems positive. The project is in full swing, and although modifications will be made to improve the system down the road, Galloway wants to first concentrate on seeing it work to its highest capacity.
“At this point, we need to get the system totally up and running,” he said. “Once we have some experience with a 24 hour system, we will be able evaluate what additions or improvements we need or want to make.