Card Keys Should Be 'Universal'

Students Should Have Access to All Dorms, U.C. Reps. Say

When the College installs electronic locks on all its dormitories, students' card keys should be "universal," Undergraduate Council representatives are saying.

At a meeting of the Committee on House Life (COHL) this week, the council's Residential Committee recommended that students have access to all dorms under the new system.

Such universal keys would "greatly enhance convenience for students," said David L. Hanselman '94, co-chair of the Residential Committee.

Currently, only first-year dorms are equipped with electronic locks, but Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said upperclass houses will be soon to follow.

"It is very likely that we will equip the houses with a card key system over a relatively short period of time. By that I mean a few years," Jewett said yesterday.


Of the five house masters that sit on the COHL, only Leverett Master John E. Dowling '57 opposed the idea, according to Jennifer W. Grove '94, the other co-chair of the Residential Committee.

But several University officials interviewed yesterday expressed concern with universal card keys.

"It's big security risk," said Kathleen Bray, superintendent of freshmen dormitories. University Police Chief Paul E. Johnson also said he foresaw security problems.

Johnson said he does, however, see promise in the card key system.

"I think it would be a good idea to make the card keys multi-purpose. One card could serve as a key, library card and I.D. card," Johnson said.

Jewett said universal card key system is already in place in Yard dorms, during some periods of the day.

"Flexibility to have universal access exists with the kind of card key system we have. You can have it be a universal key during certain times and not at other times."

The committee also discussed the need to expedite the replacement of card keys lost during the weekend.

Currently, students who lose a card key over the weekend cannot get a new one until Monday. The delay is "frustrating," first-year students said yesterday.

Elizabeth S. Ratner '96 who lost her card key last month said, "I had to knock on the window of the guys' room downstairs. By the end of the weekend they got annoyed with me."

Bray said the card keys cannot be replaced during the weekend because neither the Freshman Dean's Office nor Harvard Police want to do the job.

"The loss of card keys is not really a police problem. If a student reports a loss, all we can do is block off the use of that particular key in the system," Johnson said.

Jewett said that once the program is in place, an "emergency system" enabling students to get cards over the weekend will be put into effect.

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