Residence Hall officials are currently looking to replace all existing keyed entries with e-chips that would open doors and monitor student activity.
The proposed access-controlled community, already in place in Francisco Torres Residence Hall, would permit students to enter their residence halls via a $15 plastic identity card with an embedded chip. The e-card simultaneously records the time and place of entry in a permanent computer log.
Installation of the new system, planned for Santa Cruz, Anacapa and San Miguel by Fall 2007 and remaining residence halls by Fall 2008, would help improve safety and decrease costs incurred by key and lock replacements, officials say.
However, students have expressed concerns that the new policy invades their personal privacy.
“It would feel like you had no privacy, even though it sounds all cool to have a universal access card in your pocket, I would rather carry around my keys,” said Darlington Ahaiwe, first-year business economics major and Santa Rosa resident. “Even if people are not out doing bad stuff, there are still people doing things they do not necessarily want other people to know about.”
UCPD Public Information Officer Matt Bowman said the system offers a lawful form of monitoring access and ensuring public safety.
“It keeps the honest people honest, allowing access only to the people who have real business there,” Bowman said. “While on one hand it’s Big Brother, on the other hand it’s a legitimate standpoint allowing authorities to determine access.”
Furthermore, Assistant Director of Maintenance and Residential Operations Jeffery Monteleone said the data would only be exposed under critical circumstances that would warrant the release of the information.
“If it becomes a judicial issue, for instance a crime is committed in the residence halls, then we would look at records to see who was in the area,” Monteleone said. “Otherwise we are not going to be monitoring students – this is their home and an open campus and we don’t have the time.”
Santa Cruz resident Brandon Wickes said aside from his concerns regarding monitored activity, the concept of keyless access seems appealing.
“I think keyless entry would be cool, but tracking people would be invasive,” said Wickes, a first-year undeclared major. “If they could find a way to do it without the tracking, then it would be nice.”
Monteleone said the transformation has been in progress for a number of years, and the keyless entry chips currently in effect at FT were an initial method of testing the system. The card only permits access to exterior doors, but allows front desk staff to monitor open doors around the building.
“This has been in the works for a number of years, but in FT right now just the exterior doors are in the system because our first line of defense is being able to lock [the building] down when necessary and keep people out,” Monteleone said. “The system also allows us to monitor propped doors, and sends an email alerting the front desk allowing us to instantly send someone.”
According to Bowman, the university began using access-controlled programs five years ago, when individual departments began independently purchasing, installing and administering the systems. Buildings such as Cheadle and Bren Hall, the California NanoSystems Institute, the Psychology Building and the Marine Science Institute all currently possess similar technology to the Bosch Ready Key Pro, which Housing plans to extend to all housing facilities within the next three years.
Eventually, Bowman said, campus groups such as the Access Control Committee want to move toward a complete universal card, combining student identity ACCESS cards, laundry services and the e-access chip. But he said progress has been partially impeded by disputes concerning the money the UCen receives from replacing lost and stolen ACCESS cards, which it currently manufactures.
“There is a big push to eventually replace student ID cards for user convenience,” Bowman said. “But this has not yet occurred due to political reasons, partly involving the University Center’s income from making ACCESS cards. This is why this hasn’t gone any further.”