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Automatic doors into Ohio State residence halls leave some concerned about safety

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A door to Archer House, a North Campus dorm where the door automatically opens when a student slides his or her BuckID. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

A door to Archer House, a North Campus dorm where the door automatically opens when a student slides his or her BuckID.
Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

While Ohio State students living in residence halls are being told to monitor who enters the building behind them after a public safety notice was issued about a reported rape on campus, some residents said the matter is out of their control.

Some residents of Archer House on North Campus are concerned about how one of the building’s entrances automatically opens when a student slides their BuckID to enter, and how it takes about 15 seconds to fully close again.

“I really do believe, in (light) of all of the things happening in the past week, that that’s a safety issue. Not only for the staff and the people that work here but the people who live here. Anybody could come in and do whatever,” said Dakota Smith, a second-year in education.

Smith said he understands the need for an automated door, but thinks a handicap push button would suffice.

“The first semester, it was fine. It didn’t do that until we came back from Christmas break. Then the door was like that, and it’s very upsetting,” Smith said.

Student Life spokesman Dave Isaacs said students are expected to be extra careful when using that door as a result.

“A BuckID is necessary to open all residence hall exterior doors, including this particular one at Archer House,” Isaacs said in an email. “I would encourage students who use that entrance to be especially vigilant in the interests of safety. We always request, as part of our on-going education efforts, that students not allow tailgating by others through any BuckID controlled doors and if you see something, say something.”

Isaacs did not say if any other residence halls have similar doors.

Michael Mahan, a second-year in actuarial science and accounting and Archer resident said, however, it’s unrealistic to expect students to monitor the door given how long it takes to shut.

“You could actually be up on your floor before the door even closes. If that happens, you don’t know who is behind you,” Mahan said. “There’s no other door that requires you to swipe in, so you’re already in the halls of the dorm.”

Smith also said students shouldn’t be responsible for making sure no one enters behind them because the only other option is to wait.

“I have tried to shut that door, and it’s very difficult. It’s automated. You have to use a lot of force, and then there’s all the stipulations, like you might break the door mechanism,” Smith said.

Messages encouraging dorm residents to be extra careful were posted after a rape was reported in a residence hall and later deemed a “continuing threat” by University Police.

The rape allegedly occurred Jan. 25 at a South Campus residence hall. More recent information and the suspect’s return after the incident led to a public safety notice being issued, according to the notice sent Feb. 21.

Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston addressed the issue in her weekly online column Feb. 23.

Adams-Gaston included safety tips such as reporting anyone “who has not followed security protocol when entering a residence hall” and not allowing others to enter residence halls without showing an ID.

The case is still under investigation, according to the University Police daily log.

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