Increased security will keep students safer in buildings after hours

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With the installment of new security systems, the days of a custodians locking and unlocking buildings around campus are over.

Of the 160 buildings on campus, 65-70 are installed with the Building Access Control System to allow only certain people access during restricted hours.

New and renovated buildings are now required to have the security system installed.

Bob Harkins, associate vice president for Campus Safety and Security, said the committee is trying to install the control system around the perimeter of campus first because they have the most exposure, and hopes to have that portion of the project completed within the next several years.

“Certainly there is a concern about theft, but my main concern was personal security when you have someone working in a remote site by themselves until three or four in the morning,” Harkins said.

With the updated system, new UT ID cards have a built-in chip that is programmed for the system to allow certain students, faculty and staff access during the night. Each building has an administrator who determines which ID cards can gain late access. 

Officer Layne Brewster of the UT Crime Prevention Unit said eventually all buildings will have card access on the exterior doors so that all doors can be locked with the push of a button, making the campus safer in a lockdown.

“It would be great to have the access card readers on all exterior doors, but that costs a lot of money,” Brewster said.

Brewster said the system could fail when students prop open doors, which makes it more difficult for police officers to know when there is a security breach.

Plan II architecture senior Hank Parker uses his proximity-enabled ID card to
access Sutton and Goldsmith Halls any time after closing to work in his studio.

“With the buildings securely locked late into the evening, I don’t have to worry about my valuables being taken from my studio by a stranger or threatened by any suspicious persons wandering into the building as I work late into the night,” Parker said.

Parker said he contacted UTPD one night while working in his studio because two men identifying themselves as construction workers approached him in the building, which seemed suspicious at 2 a.m.

Students should always have their phones on them when they stay late on campus, according to UTPD officer Jimmy Moore.

“Whether you’re sure or unsure if it’s an actual crime, we’d always rather show up and find that there’s nothing going on versus not ever being called because you didn’t think it was,” Moore said.