Building access a security issue

Swipe-card system could improve safety

Many buildings on Queen’s campus lack the swipe-card system Ottawa police say could have prevented an attack at Carleton University earlier this month.

A 23-year-old chemistry student was attacked in a lab on campus shortly after midnight.

The building she was in didn’t have a comprehensive swipe-card security system, which would more likely have restricted her attacker’s access to the building.

Eighteen buildings on Queen’s campus have swipe-card access, and all of them use the more traditional mechanical keys, said Campus Security Director Dave Patterson.

Patterson said the University has reviewed a centralized approach to electronic access control systems.

“Future systems will be fully capable of expansion to include all buildings and doors across campus,” he told the Journal in an e-mail.

Patterson said having key-card systems rather than traditional mechanical keys makes it easier to prevent building access from falling into the wrong hands.

“What it would allow you then is easier-to-retrieve keys or take keys off the system if they’re lost,” he told the Journal, adding that students should do their part by not allowing people to follow them into a building.

“Security’s everybody’s responsibility, so if you see somebody suspicious outside a building, etc, don’t allow them to tailgate in,” he said. “You can have mechanical keys or electronic access control--people can still tailgate.”

Patterson said each department decides who can access its buildings after hours, and how.

“Every building has keys and every building has different needs,” he said.

Randy Myers, undergraduate lab technician for the physics department, said undergraduate students who aren’t TAs don’t usually get their own keys and must be accompanied by a professor or TA after-hours.

Myers said the building used to be entirely on a mechanical key system, but it was switched over because of unauthorized entry into the building.

“There’s a special master key and somebody’s copied it and students have been able to, you know, get in,” he said. “So we go to a fob [swiping system] now, which is more controlled and if one student were suspect we could disable their fob. That’s the way you have to be these days. … Somebody could always steal a fob, but then they call us and we shut it off.”

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