I, like most students, enjoy feeling safe on campus. It’s nice being able to walk to and from class without the potential threat of violent attacks, bands of marauding criminals, and scary drug addicts coming down from a week-long meth binge.
When I first told my mom I planned on going to school in downtown Portland, she assumed this was going to be the prevailing reality for me. However, anyone who has been on campus for more than 15 minutes can tell you that it’s probably one of the safest places in Portland.
Now I’m not saying Portland State’s campus does not see its fair share of criminal activity, be it sexual assault, drug use or theft, because it does. Our campus has not reached the status of utopian hipster commune as of yet.
For this reason, there are many security measures the university takes which seek to make the campus safer for those who attend school here, and especially those who live here.
While I might not support the recent arming of PSU’s Campus Public Safety Officers, I do not deny they have an important role here on campus providing basic security needs. Other security measures, such as locking the university buildings after a certain hour and restricting access to residential halls at night, are essential to providing an environment people can feel safe in.
No one wants to find an impromptu crack den in their 8 a.m. Spanish class, nor do they want random strangers walking through their residence halls at night.
However, with that said, I can’t help but feel that the new security measures taken in the Montgomery Court housing building, while temporary, are doing absolutely nothing to increase security measures within the building.
If you’re unsure of what’s changed because you don’t live on campus or haven’t needed to fill up a laundry card or pick up a package, the main entrance is now only for Montgomery residents, and the courtyard entrance is open until 9 p.m. However, instead of making awkward eye contact with the desk attendant as you walk by, you will now have to show student ID to a housing employee before entering the residential part of the building.
As a Montgomery resident, I have had to deal with this on a regular basis. I can tell you it has been annoying to have to show my ID every single time I’m trying to go back to my room. However, as a resident, knowing that there is someone down there stationed at a desk checking IDs does not make me feel the slightest bit safer.
Recently I was waiting to have my ID checked and a young woman who had headphones in waltzed right past and up the residential stairs. After the desk attendant yelled at her she responded and returned to show ID.
I asked the desk attendant what would have happened if she didn’t comply and just went upstairs. She said they’d call the resident assistant on call. I then asked what they’d do if the RA couldn’t reach the person in question, and she said that CPSO would then be called.
So, essentially, if someone with sinister intentions decides to execute their criminal master plan, it takes two phone calls before they potentially put a stop to them.
When I asked another greeter about this they said they’re not really there for security, but as a deterrent.
Luckily, this is a temporary measure until new doors with locks that lead to the residential halls can be installed. While I know this won’t stop committed people from robbing residents, it will be a nice addition to the residential hall.
Time and time again I’ve entered the bathroom and have seen people leaving the showers who I could almost guarantee did not live on my floor. I’ve even met people who have claimed that they regularly used Montgomery showers even though they lived somewhere else.
Clearly new doors which lock are long overdue. But even this does not particularly bother me from a security point of view.
Most people who live on this campus and have friends living in other residential buildings know it’s not difficult to get into a building without access badges or keys. Even locked doors won’t stop those who will try to access the building without proper clearance.
In fact, it’ll probably be easier to get into the residential halls with locked doors versus having a greeter who needs to see your ID. Such improvements may be good for freeing up shower time but really don’t do anything for security.
While I’m not lobbying for scrapping plans to add locks to the doors leading to the residential halls, I don’t understand why University Housing & Residence Life is wasting money paying someone to passively check IDs. How does putting a PSU student in the lobby to restrict access actually impact the security of the building? Half of them aren’t even good greeters and are horribly awkward and non-confrontational when asking for ID. Luckily I’m not a criminal, but if I were I’m sure they would not intimidate me in the slightest.
At the end of the day, all they do is stop my friend from knocking on my door and do not provide any real barrier between residents and those with less than favorable intentions.
So, UHRL, don’t pretend that the hassle of showing our IDs is worth the potential security benefits, because I can tell you right now it’s not.