By: Ben Salom
Starting last semester, Goucher College adopted a policy that the Sanford J Ungar Athenaeum and the attached Goucher College Library is closed to anyone other than students or faculty in late evening hours. The doors to the Athenaeum lock at night and require a valid school-issued ID to get in. Additionally, a security officer patrols the library each night at midnight and asks patrons to show school ID. The check is quick and noninvasive; library patrons merely need to flash their OneCard to to the officer when asked to. This is due to a new school policy to bar non school-affiliated people from the Athenaeum in the late evening hours.
This change is intended to address security issues within the Athenaeum. The library is a large space that is open 24/7, students are working in at any given time. Students often often leave belongings unattended for extended periods, and have reported thefts. While the culprits could very well be students, removing non-students from the space in the late evenings could help prevent some crimes and ensure a peaceful workspace.
The Goucher Eye reached out to Public Safety Director David Heffer for more information about the policy change. Heffer took up the post of Security Director in the 2015 Fall semester, and began an analysis of the state of school security. After weighing factors related to previous incidents of theft or misconduct in the Athenaeum, campus security decided that the new policy was a good choice.
Additionally, consultation from the racial justice group Baltimore Racial Justice Action advised security to look at the issue through an “equity lens” to prevent potential lapses in security scrutiny caused by racial profiling. On this matter, Heffer said, “Our former policy essentially advised that we reserve the right to ID anyone at any time and I had a concern that, absent any other guidance, we could run afoul by responding to a community concern about someone not ‘looking like a student.’ The equitable solution then, was to ID everyone at a predetermined time.” Mr. Heffer noted that while while the new security protocol is still too new to draw conclusive judgements, there have not been any reports of thefts in the Athenaeum following an evening security sweep.
While students expressed some wariness about the changes in the first few weeks, students’ reaction to the policy change seems to be generally positive. When asked how he felt about the ID checks, Goucher student Dylan Margolis ‘19 said, “it doesn’t really bother me. It’s pretty well intentioned.” Another student, Armand Miele-Herndon ‘17, also generally approves of the new policy, but wondered about potential supplementary or alternative solutions, such as “a kiosk you need to pass to get in.” Accommodations for student convenience have already been made by pushing back the time checks occur. According to Officer Weldon, a security guard responsible for the library patrols on weeknights, “We did [the patrols] at ten, but then moved them back to 12:00am because people were complaining.” Additional security patrols of the library occur every few hours throughout the night.