The music department increased security measures in the basement of the Academic Center this year after a rash of instrument thefts last spring totaled more than $20,000 in losses.
Facilities Management moved the lockers that used to the hallways of the department into room B-112 this year. Students access the room by swiping GWorld cards only after purchasing locker space. Students are still responsible for providing locks.
Three security cameras now monitor activities inside and outside the room. A motion detector on the door to room B-112 alarms the University Police Department if the door is left open for longer than 15 seconds.
B-112 was formerly a piano lab room. The pianos classes are now being held in Building XX at 20th and I streets.
Roy Guenther, interim music department chair, said the security improvements cost the music department $35,000. He said the department saved $15,000 because Facilities Management moved the pianos from B-112, relocated the lockers and repainted the hallways at no extra cost.
UPD Director Dolores Stafford said officers patrol the hallway surrounding B-112 at least three times a day. The Phillips Hall basement remains a “special attention area” where UPD has assigned extra patrol officers who randomly pass through the department.
Students who access B-112 after 10 p.m. need to show a GWorld card to a Community Service Assistant before they enter the Academic Center. At this time, all other doors to the music department are locked and alarmed.
“I think the room is now secure,” Stafford said. She said she expects UPD’s new precautions will prevent further instrument theft.
Music students said they are growing more comfortable with leaving instruments in the lockers this year.
“After last year, I never left it alone. Even during practice I wouldn’t leave my violin alone,” said Sudheer Balakrishnan, a senior in the University Orchestra. “But now I guess I’ll use it. I trust it much more now.”
Lockers, which are still available, cost $5 per semester for small spaces and $10 per semester for a large, shared locker. Guenther said there are at least eight lockers left so far this year.
Despite the new equipment and more personnel to monitor activity in the music department, some students and faculty said they are unsure about how effective the new security measures will be.
“I have some doubts. That is why I say the responsibility has to be with the student,” said emeritus professor Gregory Steiner, who conducts the University Orchestra.
“Obviously, it only takes a GWorld to open the door to the locker room,” Balakrishnan said. “Someone can come up right behind you; they don’t need a GWorld. They can just go in.”
Department officials said students are still liable for instrument theft despite the new measures.
“The University can’t be responsible for those instruments,” Steiner said. “They need to be insured. The responsibility is the student’s, but all we can do is help as much as possible to keep safety.”
Guenther said thefts should not be a problem this year.
“I can’t see anything like the problem we had ever happening again under this situation,” he said. “If it does, we’ve got cameras that will find out who they are.”