Locked out with nowhere to go

By Linda Luk

Residence hall students who lock themselves out of their rooms are finding it more costly to get back in.

Student Housing and Dinning Services has re-implemented the $5 charge for all temporary key replacements.

Last semester, a trial program was implemented in the residence halls to allow students to check out a lockout key free of charge. But that has since changed.

It is a matter of expenses and time, said Willard Draper, director of residential life. By not charging students, the staff can spend more time on programming and working with students instead of filling out paperwork.

The residence halls also found that because of the option to get a free replacement key, they encountered a dramatic increase in the usage of lockout keys.

“The number of lockouts just sky rocket,” Draper said. “A lot of students are purposely not taking their keys. Students need to take their keys and act responsibly.”

In October 2001, there were 460 key replacements compared to the 1,900 key replacements of last October, a 313 percent increase.

After assessing the trial program with the Residence Hall Association, hall councils and various residence life staff, a decision was made to end the trial period.

“Last semester, the use of lockout keys more than doubled,” said Keith Kruchten, administrative vice president of the Residence Hall Association. “From a security point of view, it was unacceptable.”

Student Housing and Dinning Services will continue to monitor the number of lockout keys used throughout the residence halls. Along with the Residence Hall Association, various proposals also will be looked at in regard to handling the use and the charge for lockout keys.

But until then, students are forced to foot the bill for their actions – a decision that doesn’t sit well with everyone.

“I don’t think they should charge because it is not that inconvenient for them to get a key and go unlock the door,” said Teresa Smith, a sophomore accounting major. “On the flip side, it puts the responsibility on us to remember our keys.”