Trinity’s card-only access akin to living in a prison cell

JESSICA CHOTINER ’17
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
The use of the Personal Access Code (PACs) is endangered –– dorm room locks are being changed to card-access only. While many buildings have yet to see this transition, it is soon to be school-wide. Then, we may all find ourselves donning lanyards –– an accessory that is only justified if one needs it for CIA security clearance.
According to a Campus Safety officer I spoke with card-access is intended to combat the breach of security caused by students exchanging PACs. Apparently, people give out their PACs like candy on Halloween under the assumption that, like a King-Size Snickers, it will make them friends. One bitter ex-boyfriend or angry best friend and this exercise in trust and camaraderie may sour with theft, vandalism, or awkward interruptions to personal time. The possibilities for disaster are very real.
The school is taking these incidents seriously and trying to eradicate the problem altogether. While their proactive stance is appreciated, the change to card-access for dorm rooms is uncomfortable at best. Not only does card-access put unnecessary strain on students and Campus Safety officers, it detracts from “real-life” lessons in personal responsibility.
As students we are constantly in and out of our rooms, and any number of situations could result in a forgotten ID card, such as a 3 a.m. bathroom run or a rushed exit so as not to be late for class, for example. Imagine locking yourself out just before an important exam or appointment and being forced to wait for a Campus Safety officer to grant you entry to your room.
That is another issue with card-access. As forgotten IDs are an inevitable occurrence, letting students into their own rooms will occupy even more of our Campus Safety resources. Officers may miss the opportunity to apprehend the serial butt-grabber if they are engaged in the problems caused by a misplaced ID. Aside from that, they will become increasingly exasperated with the seemingly useless and annoying calls from students who forget IDs. The last thing Trinity College wants is for Campus Safety officers to be fed up with the students they are meant to protect.
School is quite unlike home as it is, and though it may be subconscious, we are always a little on guard. We wear shoes in the shower, never leave our laptops unattended, and do not let our clothes sit in the dryer overnight. This is all to be expected when one cohabits with 2,300 other people. Eventually, the college-induced behavioral adjustments become habit, and we can relax into the ebb and flow of shared living space.
However, card-access to individual dorm rooms crosses the line between conscientious living and restrictive living.
Students generally take these precautions of their own accord. No one monitors us for shower-shoe use, nor should they. College allows us to experience certain facets of adult life, while still living in the bounds of a safety net. Though the card-access system may seem like an extension of that safety net, it also deprives us of the opportunity for personal responsibility. If someone gives out his or her PAC, even if it is given to a “friend”, that decision carries a risk. Misusing someone’s personal information may be wrong, but handing out that information is foolish.
PACs are convenient, and by trading code for card access, the school is causing trouble for the majority of students who do not suffer from compromised PACS. In some ways, the ability to choose just how guarded we are with our personal habits and information, makes school seem less like a “facility”.
Yet with the change to card-access for individual living spaces, each room feels less like a home and more like a cell.

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