Students should have tap access to all residence halls

We’ve all had those moments walking into a friend’s residence hall with fingers crossed, hoping there won’t be any Student Access Monitors guarding the entrance so we can just walk in behind a resident, instead of forcing a friend come down to tap us in. Quite frankly, it’s a complete shot in the dark as to whether you’ll even need your GWorld card to get into a building.

This happened to me last weekend when I was waiting with some friends in the lobby of Shenkman Hall for the rest of our group to arrive so we would be able to tap them into the building. As we waited in the lobby, my friend began to question the reasons behind the security measures. She wondered why students don’t just have tap access to all residential buildings. The only reason to explain why GW would deny all-tap is security concerns. But if the reason why students don’t have all building tap access is because of a possible security risk, then GW is failing its students miserably. Given the nuisance caused by only allowing students to tap into their own residence hall and the current security measures being ineffective, the University should take steps to grant all-tap access to its students.

Cartoon by Grace Lee

Cartoon by Grace Lee

When I lived in Amsterdam Hall last year, there were only a few days over President Donald Trump’s inaugural weekend that I recall anyone at the entrance to the building requiring students entering to tap in. That’s only four or five days out of the entire academic year. Every other day, any person could have easily walked in behind someone else. In fact, on the few occasions that I forgot my GWorld card in my room and had to get back into the building, that’s exactly what I did.

This is true of other upperclassmen residence halls as well. In 2015, following budget cuts to campus security, GW adjusted shifts for its student security teams to reflect the changing mix of students in residence halls. Not all residence halls offer ID-check security, but they do have restricted tap access. This means the only effect that denying campus-wide tap access has had is that students need to wait until another student arrives to follow them into the building. I have rarely seen SAMs guarding the entrance of upperclassman buildings, which means a student’s ability to get into the building without a friend to tap them in is left up to chance. With students and outside community members able to slide in behind residents without an ID check, it would be potentially safer for all students on campus to have tap access so that it is more obvious when non-students follow in behind a resident. If GW really wanted to provide security for their students, they would put more of an emphasis on having SAMs at the entrance to buildings rather than denying all-tap access to students.

The current inconsistency and lack of security in residence halls has allowed students to get into buildings other than their own with ease – without putting students in danger. Given the ease with which students are able to get into residence halls that are not their own, along with the apparent absence of security problems associated with this, it is seemingly senseless to deny all tap access to students.

What’s more, several other universities with urban campuses have all-tap in some form. Georgetown University, for instance, allows students to enter residence halls other than their own between 9 a.m. and midnight. At the University of Pennsylvania, students can generally get into all residence halls as long as they can show their student ID. At New York University, which has a sprawling campus and far-flung residence halls in the heart of Manhattan, a student ID will get you into any residence hall, according to undergraduate students at those universities.

Being only allowed to tap into your own residence hall is a nuisance for students, and one that doesn’t come with any added benefits. Many other universities, that are similar to GW, offer a more relaxed position on allowing students to enter residence halls. Adding in the fact that the University doesn’t consistently enforce its own security measures, and that there don’t appear to be any serious security concerns, it doesn’t make sense to deny students all-tap access to residential buildings. GW should begin to take steps to reform their security policies by offering extended tap access to all students. Doing this would help to streamline residence hall security measures and would get rid of what has become a common and unnecessary annoyance to students.

Stefan Sultan, a junior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet opinions writer.

Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.