The key to security on campus

A look at building security and access

The AMS doesn’t have an exact number of how many keys exist for AMS offices and club space, but keeps track of all the keys that are given out.
The AMS doesn’t have an exact number of how many keys exist for AMS offices and club space, but keeps track of all the keys that are given out.
Photo: 

Anne Connelly, ArtSci ’07 and Queen’s Medical Outreach (QMO) general director, said she doesn’t think security for club space in the JDUC is tight enough.

Last year, the Queen’s Medical Outreach (QMO) office was broken into and approximately $1,100 in coins was stolen, Connelly said.

Although the locks were changed after the break-in, she said the club didn’t feel the office was secure.

“We bought a safe after last year,” she said.

The AMS has about 50 rooms within the JDUC, Macgillivray-Brown Hall and the Grey House, but there’s no “air-tight” way to keep track of who has keys to what. There is also no way to guarantee that individuals are not making copies of their keys before returning them.

Railie Giguere, AMS administrative assistant, and Glenn Best, student centre officer, are in charge of distributing keys to the AMS offices and club space in the JDUC and in Macgillivray-Brown Hall.

Best said club presidents can give the AMS front desk a list of club members authorized to access keys.

He said the AMS changes locks when necessary, such as after a break-in or upon the request of a club.

“Generally when we see that many keys are out for a space we will consider changing the lock for security reasons,” he said.

Best said he thinks the key system works adequately, but that it’s difficult to keep perfect track of who has keys to what.

“I don’t know if an airtight system could ever be implemented, and for that reason we always encourage clubs not to leave any valuables in their space,” he said. Between the JDUC, Macgillivray-Brown Hall and the Grey House, Giguere said the AMS has almost 50 rooms designated as club spaces.

Giguere said locks to rooms belonging to the AMS fall into several different categories, designated by a number on the lock and key.

When a student receives a key from the AMS for an office or club space, he or she must pay a $10 deposit and fill out a form.

The form specifies the name of the individual, the key received and when he or she paid the deposit.

It also requires students to sign an agreement to the key’s terms of use, which include agreeing to not make a duplicate of the key and using the key solely for work purposes. However, there is no way of ensuring that students abide by the contract.

“Even though it says ‘Do not duplicate’ and they sign a contract, there’s no guarantee,” Giguere said, adding that she thinks most students do adhere to the rules.

Giguere said she keeps the forms on file until the student returns the key.

There are still records on file from students who have graduated, but Giguere said she doesn’t think it poses any security risk.

“In the past they have had some security issues, but I think in most cases the key has just been lost or forgotten,” she said. “I think people who are intent on vandalism don’t use a key.” The AMS office also keeps keys on-hand for a number of club spaces, which members of the club can sign out using their student cards.

Giguere said the locks were recently changed on the Campus Activities Commission door.

“They thought they had too many outstanding keys. There were too many people coming in and out,” Giguere said.

In addition to the club space and office keys, Giguere said she also distributes keys for AMS services.

“Those keys are very strictly monitored,” she said. “They’re keys that physically can’t be duplicated.”

The manager and assistant managers for each service each have a key.

AMS President James Macmillan said he received two keys with his position.

“One is the key to the AMS offices--that will get me in the door to the board room and the Union Street entrance--and then I have what is referred to as a master key, but it certainly doesn’t get me in everywhere,” he said.

Macmillan said the master key gives him access to most of the AMS offices, except for the permanent staff office and the Commission for Internal Affairs office, because of the confidential files kept there.

Macmillan said Ian Black, VP (operations), and Meghan Teuber, VP (university affairs), received the same set of keys.

Macmillan said he hasn’t heard of any security breaches related to key misuse.

“I know that sometimes in transition, it can become a problem,” he said. “The new people [who] come into a club don’t really want the old people to still have keys.”

Jenn Mansell, CIA deputy prosecutor, said the nine students who work for the CIA are the only ones with keys to the office.

She said all case files are kept in a locked filing cabinet, to which only members of the prosecutor’s office have access.

The Concurrent Education Students’ Association (CESA) has an office in the AMS club space.

After a theft occurred in the office over winter break last year, the locks were changed.

Whitney Jackman, ConEd ’07 and CESA president, said the five members of the CESA executive have their own keys for the office.

She said there is also one key in the AMS office, to which the 45 members of CESA have access.

Jackman said CESA doesn’t worry about outstanding keys because members of the outgoing executive give their keys directly to the incoming members.

“One can’t disappear, because you have to pass it on,” she said.

JDUC Director Bob Burge said the key distribution system for the meeting rooms and offices under his jurisdiction is pretty structured.

“It’s the same in the university centre as anywhere else,” he said.

Burge said the four full-time JDUC employees have master keys for the front office as well as equipment and meeting rooms in the JDUC. The JDUC office also employs about a dozen students who work in the front office, Burge said.

“The students have access to the office, so they can do their shifts at night,” Burge said. “But they just have one key to one office.” In addition to the staff and students, Burge said custodians also have access to the various rooms within the building, as well as Campus Security.

Burge said they change individual locks on a regular basis, as well as when the need arises, although he couldn’t comment on how frequently that was.

Security isn’t a major issue for the offices and rooms under his jurisdiction, Burge said.

“Anyone who’s got stuff like money or inventory, they have an alarm system,” he said, adding that the meeting rooms in the JDUC wouldn’t be likely targets for theft or vandalism because they don’t have many valuables.

“Where we have security, it’s because we need the security.” Burge said it is the responsibility of every group on campus to ensure security of the building in which they work.

“We keep track of the keys that we control. We trust everyone else to keep track of their keys,” he said.

Campus Security has keys to all facilities at the University, said David Patterson, Campus Security director.

There are many different levels of keys, he said.

“There are keys that open up front doors, keys that open offices, keys that open mechanical areas. There are keys that can open up more than one door on campus.” He said most of these keys are stored in the Campus Security office.

“The keys are locked up in a cabinet and staff have to put in a key to unlock that, and they’re signed out and signed back in again.”

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to journal_editors@ams.queensu.ca.

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.