24-Hour Guards Hired for Houses

The College has hired 24-hour security guards to patrol each of the College’s 12 undergraduate Houses in a move aimed at standardizing house security throughout the night.

The extended hours, which were implemented at the beginning of the semester, came as a result of a review begun after an undergraduate was caught producing counterfeit Harvard IDs in November, according to University spokesman Joseph Wrinn.

Administrators concluded that although the ID scandal did not create a safety risk for the community, standardized House security and extended hours of patrol would preempt future problems, Wrinn wrote in an e-mailed statement.

Yet several House masters said that bootlegged IDs were not the only reason for the heightened security.

Adams House Master Sean G. Palfrey ‘67 said there had been a number of criminal episodes in the month preceding the arrival of the 24-hour guards.

“There were some security issues around the houses that [Harvard University Police Department] and the Dean’s Office were concerned about,” he said. “I think there were some broken windows and people in or around buildings that shouldn’t have been.”

He said that the call for increased security came from both the House masters and University Hall.

Last semester, late-night guards were assigned to groups of two or three Houses based on neighborhood, according to Palfrey.

Between the hours of 12:45 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., there was a gap in security in the Houses, said Kirkland House Master Tom C. Conley.

Palfrey added that he is still uncertain whether the 24-hour guards will be effective at increasing residential safety on campus. “As always, a show of increased security helps,” he said, “but I think probably what they’ll do is try it out for a period of time and see if it’s made any difference.”

While Wrinn said that it is University policy not to discuss budgets, Palfrey estimated that the cost of added guards “must be very expensive.”

Even though the new policy requires all Houses to have 24-hour security, some do not currently have overnight guards on patrol.

“We had a person who went for a short while and it didn’t work out,” Conley said. “The [guard] probably had trouble staying up all night.” He added that the House is actively searching a replacement.

But some students said that an additional guard may not translate into increased safety.

“In a House of 400 students, the single best security option is the students. They are they eyes and ears of the university,” said former Adams House Committee Co-Chair Timothy J. Smith ’08. “Having a single person is of course helpful, but some houses have several doors and students just need to be vigilant about who they’re letting into their Houses.”

—Staff writer Charles J. Wells can be reached at wells2@fas.harvard.edu.