Does Universal Access to Houses Ensure Safety?

Erin Richards '15 Sports Editor The shift into spring semester brought many new things into our Smithie lives. New classes. New professors. New universal OneCard access to all the houses.

If you’re like me, the news of the universal swipe brought you great joy. There will be no more standing in the freezing cold, waiting for your friends to let you into their house. In some ways, universal access is a bridge connecting Smithies throughout the houses, saying, “I trust you.” However, it begs the question: do we really trust our peers?

The universal OneCard access was implemented for security purposes. As a Head Resident explained, “If you are walking home and feel like you are being followed, you can swipe into any nearby house. You know that if someone cannot get into the building, they don’t go to Smith.” Furthermore, the OneCard reader now logs you in to the house with each new swipe; this way, there is a record of students entering the houses who do not live there. The HR commented, “Living in Emerson, I am pretty used to people who don’t live here walking through our house. I know some people are frustrated with the new policy, but I think as long as you don’t abuse it, it is OK.” Abuse of the policy might include walking in and out of houses with no purpose, taking things from other houses or simply showing up unannounced.

Students at Emerson House tea this past week expressed many opinions surrounding the new universal access. Almost all were in favor of the implementation. Though they asked to remain anonymous, the conversation was very telling. One student noted, “It allows for friendships across houses because you can visit them a lot easier.” Another said, “I like the idea that if you feel like you’re being stalked late at night on campus, you can run into another house.” Though no one mentioned ever having felt the threat of someone following them home, it seemed to be a nice reassurance to know there is a backup plan ready.

When asked about the threat of more thefts throughout campus, no one seemed overly concerned: “I can’t imagine someone walking into someone’s room. If you’re going to steal, you’re going to do it from someone you know.” The suggestion of theft was met with the solution of locking your door. Moreover, most students agreed that they do not trust students who live elsewhere any less than those from their own house.

In addition, many of those who first felt very strongly against universal access have recently changed their opinions. An HP explained her feelings: “I was very against it at first because I had that privilege and no one else had it, but I think it has worked out really well. There was no reason for us to have the privilege over everyone else. And living on the third floor, I like that I don’t have to go get my friends.”

Another positive aspect of universal access is the login system. As one student pointed out, “I think it is good because if something were to happen to you, [Res Life] will know where you are.”

One student, who said, “I think that as long as people treat others the way that they want to be treated, it should be fine,” summed up a consensus of the conversation. If the attitudes of these Smithies are indicative, it seems as though universal access is here to stay.