Holding doors seen as courtesy among students
Safety questioned following incident
Published: Monday, September 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 16:02
When walking around campus on a Friday or Saturday night, it’s very common to see students holding the door to dormitories for other students. Residents don’t even think twice about it and it can be seen as rude not to hold the door open. What if the person that came in behind a student wasn’t a resident of that building, though? What if that person didn’t even attend UNH?
Last week, an incident occurred where a young man, who was not a UNH student, gained access to an on-campus apartment. Although he wasn’t violent and didn’t cause any damage, it can still be frightening for students to know that they may not always be safe.
The man is alleged to be Donald Boyer III, the same person who is accused of soliciting sexual activities at a Gables bus stop on Sept. 16. Boyer, a resident of East Hampstead, was said to have used false pretenses to gain access to the on-campus apartment building. He is currently banned from UNH buildings and property.
Students were first made aware of this incident when Executive Director of Public Safety Paul Dean sent out a campus-wide email alert. The email reminded students of the dangers of letting strangers into their buildings and urged students to report future incidents as soon as possible. Dean also spoke of increased campus security.
“University police officers and campus service officers will be increasing their patrols in and around on-campus living areas and will answer any safety concerns you might have, including providing safety escorts throughout our community,” he said.
However, it’s hard for students to take action when they can’t identify if the person coming in behind them is actually a student or not. Sophomore Kelly Sareault said that students don’t even think twice about whom they’re letting into buildings.
“We don’t know that they’re not students. We don’t want to be rude,” she said.
Most students share this same opinion and see shutting the door on someone as being inconsiderate.
It can also be hard for students to confront people about whether or not they live in the building in which they are trying to get into. Junior Katie Clemens said that students don’t feel comfortable asking people if they live in the building they are trying to enter.
“I think it’s almost awkward to ask people whether or not they live there,” she said.
Students seem to think that if they don’t hold the door, then the other person will get mad at them. In most cases though, as Kristen Cote, a resident assistant in Mills Hall, pointed out, that person may never see you again, or they won’t recognize you. She said that students are either trying to be polite, or they just aren’t thinking twice about whom they’re letting in.
“(Students) see it as being courteous. They assume the person has a purpose in the building,” she said.
Cote also said that most incidents of non-students gaining entrance to dorms do not happen by students opening the door for others; people only get into dorms when residents are coming and going.
“I think a big part of it is that (students) are leaving at the same time that (non-students) are entering,” Kelley Murphy, another RA in Mills, said.
Cote and Murphy both said that as RAs, they’re not obligated to let anybody in, whether they know that the person is a resident or not. If they do find a non-student in a dorm (who is not a guest of a resident), they simply ask the person to leave. If the person is belligerent though, or won’t leave, then the RAs will call the police.
Although UNH has set policies in place to keep the dorms as safe as possible, other schools in the area have stricter policies. At the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, students have a swipe system similar to UNH’s to gain access to dorms, but after 8 p.m. they must check in at a front desk. If they are not a resident of the building or a UMass student, then they are not allowed to enter. Their guest policy also requires guests to sign in after 8 p.m. and students are not allowed to have more than two overnight guests in a 14-day period.
The policies at the University of Vermont are very similar to the ones here at UNH. Students have card swipes to enter dorms and if non-students or suspicious people are found, then they are asked to leave. The guest policy also states that a guest may not stay for more than two nights in a one-week period.
Despite the recent incident here at UNH, the campus is still seen as a safe place by students. Both Sareault and Clemens, along with several other students, said that they feel safe in their dorms and don’t worry too much about non-students getting in.
Cote said she feels the same way as well, but urges her residents to be careful. “You never assume you’re letting someone dangerous in,” she said.