Nearly every on-campus student can now use their GWorld card to unlock their residence hall rooms.
Officials added electronic keys to 15 residence halls as part of the University’s ongoing efforts to enhance its security profile. In interviews, more than 20 students said the tap access is more convenient than using a key, which can more easily be lost or stolen.
Mark Diaz – the executive vice president and chief financial officer – said electronic access aligns with the University’s overall culture initiative, which prioritizes safety.
“We had a disparate experience amongst the students,” Diaz said. “Some had it, Some didn’t. That didn’t make any sense. Anything that will enhance our safety position And create an environment that’s safer for students and our faculty and staff, we’re not waiting.”
Thurston Hall will not be updated with the electronic lock system because the residence hall is set to be gutted and renovated this summer, University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said in an email.
The University has installed tap access in rooms in the GW Law School building, and officials added tap access to all on-campus residence hall lobbies last semester.
“We have a project at the law school to implement and install tap access and so now the classrooms have the ability to lock down if we ever have some type of targeted violence event,” Diaz said. “Before we didn’t.”
Diaz said he planned to dedicate money to the safety division to prioritize student security. He said the cost of installing tap access hit the “low seven figures.”
Diaz added that he worked with the Student Advisory Board, the Student Association and the Residence Hall Association informally during the discussion about installing tap access. He said he attended SA forums, where student leaders asked him questions about the project.
“I want as much feedback and engagement,” he said. “That’s the piece that I want. I want the students to engage in whatever initiatives we’re rolling out, or whatever ideas that they want.”
He said students will still be able to use a physical key from Key Depot to unlock their rooms if an electric lock malfunctions.
“The malfunctions happen rarely, but now you can go from a tap reader to a mobile device, and finally to a key,” Diaz said.
RHA President Trinity Diaz said she worked with members of facilities, planning, construction and management to advise officials on how to install the electronic locks around students’ schedules.
“A lot of the plans for tap installation were made by high-level administration in order to prioritize the undergraduate student experience through better facilities,” she said. “So we acted as a student voice to help minimize the impact and give some insight where we could.”
More than 20 students said tap access to their individual rooms is more convenient than a physical lock because they can rely on their GWorld instead of having to remember a key.
Feyi Idera, a Madison Hall resident, said electronic access has saved her from waiting for her roommate to unlock their door when she routinely forgot her key.
“I definitely prefer tap access to using a key because I can safely put my GWorld in my phone holder without it falling out, the way my key would,” Idera said.
Nick Sawaf, a District Hall resident, said he often uses GW’s app-based electronic ID to access his residence hall room and can use his app if he misplaces his GWorld.
“I frequently use the electronic ID app to access my room and prefer it to the regular ID most of the time because I’m on my phone throughout the day anyway, so to be able to use it to unlock my room door is convenient,” Sawaf said.
Malin Hillemann, a 1959 E St. resident, said individual tap access has made accessing his room more efficient because his roommate doesn’t have to let him in when he forgets his key. He said he keeps his GWorld in his wallet, which he said is easier to keep track of than an individual key.
“It’s also so quick and easy to tap rather than having to unlock the door with a key every time,” Hillemann said. “It also makes me feel safe when I know only other students are able to get into my building with their cards.”
This article appeared in the January 21, 2020 issue of the Hatchet.