Staff Editorial: Keep students informed on security

It is a good sign that 24-hour security has been assigned to three more residence halls in the last month.

But what about students who live next door or down the block from those buildings, whose halls don’t see a single guard, and where security is minimal at best?

In the last month, GW has added 24-hour security to Ivory Tower, Fulbright and JBKO halls. But some residence halls remain largely unprotected, despite GW’s urban location and close proximity to the Foggy Bottom Metro station.

University Police Chief Kevin Hay declined to say if other halls would also see expanded security. Does GW think students don’t have the right to know about the state of security in their homes, let alone feel protected?

The editorial board understands that UPD determines where guards are stationed based on crime statistics. But it is unacceptable that some residence halls, like Munson, do not have guards late at night, despite the fact that the adjacent dorm, JBKO, now requires 24-hour security.

The University has declined to comment on plans for rolling out security, noting that making this knowledge public might tip off criminals. And that is a valid point.

But hypothetically, a criminal coming off the Foggy Bottom Metro could note the constant security at JBKO and move next door to Munson Hall, which is unprotected, save for the GWorld card reader that is used to unlock the door. And we have seen that despite the locks, many criminals trail into residence halls behind students after they unlock the doors.

One student guard told The Hatchet that “predominant residence halls on the Foggy Bottom Campus” will receive 24-hour security. Hay and other security officials refuse to comment.

GW should communicate these changes to residents.

Of course, UPD should not divulge detailed security protocol or game plans to the public. We understand that revealing police strategies could hurt security.

But GW must be transparent and consistent in its communication with residents about security changes in their own halls. It is the University’s responsibility to communicate any future changes within campus residence halls to all students. And the community isn’t demanding information that hasn’t been released in the past.

During the last academic year, the University held a safety and security forum to address campus safety concerns. Hay and Senior Associate Vice President for Safety and Security Darrell Darnell, with others, outlined the hours during which guards would monitor each residence hall.

Crime statistics dictate where the focus of campus security will lie. Ivory, Fulbright and JBKO saw at least 10 electronics thefts in January, justifying an increased security presence at those locations.

But that doesn’t mean that residence halls with minimal security concerns shouldn’t be protected in the event of a future crime.

Munson is just one example of a residence hall that lacks security in entirety. Francis Scott Key Hall also does not have a strong security presence, and neither does 2109 F St.

Campus police should be proactive in informing students whether or not eventual changes will be made.

These buildings are students’ homes away from home. As such, students need to know that the places where they sleep, study and socialize are safe and secure. And it is the University’s responsibility to convey that message to students immediately.

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