Northwestern U To Boost Dorm Security

Northwestern University officials will be installing security cameras and hiring uniformed security monitors beginning next fall, Vice President for Student Affairs William Banis announced at a recent Associated Student Government Senate meeting.

He said the university's original plan to put 24-hour alarms on all residence halls will be delayed for further deliberation. Banis said the results of an Associated Student Government online survey--which showed students were overwhelmingly opposed to placing alarms on non-essential doors--led Northwestern administrators to reevaluate their plans.

"I have read (the results) line by line, word by word, and have taken them to heart," Banis said.

University Police Chief Bruce Lewis stressed the "conundrum" he is facing in the decision to delay arming the doors. Intruders entered residence halls nine times last year, prompting the administration to hire a security consultant, he said.

"It's always a difficult thing to balance security and liberty," Lewis said. "But it was clear we had to do something." Lewis said UP will work with each residence and ASG on a case-by-case basis.

"There will be some changes," he said. "Things can't stay the same."

The installation of alarms is just a part of NU's long-term plans to improve residential security.

Lewis said that UP will hire 22 to 24 uniformed community service officers who will work at the security desks in the larger residential halls from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. While these officers will receive basic training, they will not attend the police academy or carry a weapon, he said.

In addition, UP plans to hire four more officers and three supervisors for the community officer program.

Security cameras will be installed in all dorms and will be monitored 24 hours a day. The lighting and surroundings at each dorm will be evaluated as well.

Lewis said the video footage would not be used to enforce administrative rules but may be used in criminal investigations.

"If we make the halls less inviting (to criminals), perhaps the criminal element will go elsewhere," Lewis said.

He said he expects the changes will take place starting this summer. Residential security monitors, who are work-study students, will be replaced in the fall, but Banis said different jobs will be available within residential life.
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