Staff editorial: Security slip

A man followed two female students into Aston Hall early Sunday morning and attempted to rob them in an elevator. While the students escaped unharmed, the incident probably would not have occurred if the University employed effective security measures in the Aston.

The most disturbing element is that there was neither a Community Host nor a University Police officer watching the lobby when the students entered the building at 2:30 a.m. The Community Living and Learning Center failed to find a replacement for the Community Host, who was scheduled for the slot, but quit a few days earlier. But even a CH could have done little to stop the intruder, and it is questionable whether they should be called upon to do so in the Aston, which has a history of illegal entrance. CHs should never be put in positions where their lives in danger.

Instead, it is the duty of UPD to ensure that residence halls are secure. UPD Director Dolores Stafford said officers patrol the Aston in 75-minute intervals. In light of Sunday’s incident, even 75 minutes is too long. Community Director Tara Woolfson said the University is exploring the idea of stationing a UPD officer in the Aston lobby – a measure that is past due.

The Aston has a history of security breaches. Last February a homeless man followed students into the Aston and fell asleep in a hallway. A student found the man at 5 a.m. and called UPD, which responded 30 to 45 minutes later. Metropolitan Police arrested the man for unlawful entry. Also, during last winter break eight computers and accessories for them were stolen from Aston rooms

Because of its distance from campus and history of security problems, Aston Hall should have 24-hour University Police security stationed in its lobby. The two students who avoided serious injury were lucky – UPD must ensure that a similar incident does not occur in the future. Students have a right to feel safe in their residence halls, and the University has the responsibility to provide effective safety measures.

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