Give Key Card Access To All

Last week, the Science Center went high-tech with access to its modern, mysterious interior limited to students and staff possessing key cards. The Universalist approach to key card access, based on the idea that members of the University community have access to Harvard buildings to which outsiders do not, should now be transferred to the houses.

As we noted last week, there is no reason to deny undergraduates who live in houses access to all the houses. If the administration is concerned about student-to-student theft, then we'd like to think that the University has skewed concerns; Harvard students are trustworthy as far as property is concerned. If it is non-Harvard criminals who worry the Administration, then its concern is misplaced. If criminals would like to enter a house, all they have to do is ask a student to let them in or, even more easily, follow a student in to the house. Once we get universal key card access, Harvard students should be smart enough not to let in others.

All-house key card access would do much for the student body. One, it would make it a great deal easier to visit friends in neighboring houses. Instead of obsequiously asking random students to let you in to their house, students will feel more comfortable on the entire campus. Two, all-house key card access would promote student safety by giving access to increased places of refuge on a campus that seems to grow more dangerous in terms of violent crime every year.

The house masters have responded to an Undergraduate Council resolution endorsing all-house key card access with undue opposition. Leverett House Master John E. Dowling sounded an alarm about criminal elements gaining access to all houses. But, as we said above, he need be no more alarmed with such access to houses than without it. Lowell House Master William H. Bossert cited differing modes of access to houses as a reason not to provide all-house access. But the key-based lock system on Winthrop House, for instance, is in the process of changing to key card access even as we speak.

It is unfortunate that the house masters do not recognize that the potential benefits of all-house access far outweigh any disadvantages we may incur therefrom. Dean of the College Harry R. Lewis '68 should encourage the house masters to reconsider their ill-considered "no," and try to push through all-house key card access by the end of the semester.