Plans to lock academic campus buildings at an earlier time are currently on the table to prevent unaffiliated trespassers from putting student safety at risk.
Assistant Chief of Police Bill Weber, wants to start locking up campus buildings at 9 p.m. instead of 10 p.m., as well as opening them at 7 a.m. instead of 6 a.m.
Weber said he would like to see this applied to Jordan Hall, Gallahue Hall, Holcomb Building, the Pharmacy and Health Sciences Building and Lilly Hall, given that the deans of those buildings permit him to do so.
All of these buildings, with the exception of Gallahue and Fairbanks building, have key card access, meaning students can scan their IDs to get into the building anytime they want.
An earlier locking time would only mean that students would have to scan their cards to enter those buildings after 9 p.m.
“It’s not unusual that we have found people who are not Butler-affiliated in the buildings,” Weber said. “I want to secure the campus and hold it in tighter when it gets to be nighttime to keep people who have no business on campus from wandering into a building just to look around.”
Incidences have occurred where random trespassers have been caught wandering the halls of various buildings, which, Weber said, could put student safety at risk.
One incident occurred roughly three weeks ago, when a minor was caught and arrested for wandering around the third floor of Atherton Union. The minor was not affiliated with the university, Weber said.
Whether the minor had malicious intentions is unknown, but Weber said that locking the doors at an earlier time is a precautionary notion that could prevent outsiders from compromising student safety.
“Unfortunately, bad things could happen to young people,” Weber said. “I would love to see students more aware of their surroundings and suspicious behavior.”
Before Weber makes any decisions or takes action, he said he wants feedback from both students and the deans of each college, hoping to see many people in agreement with his proposal.
He approached the Student Government Association to receive feedback.
“I don’t want to catch anybody off guard,” Weber said. “The most important aspect of this is student safety, and I think about student safety all of the time.”
SGA President Mike Keller said that the SGA Assembly feedback was taken through a poll with nonbinding results and was generally positive.
“Weber was able to cite a few specific examples of where there have been instances of theft and also just people being in the buildings who shouldn’t be,” Keller said. “I think it was a really convincing argument, and if we can cut down on those things just by closing up the buildings a little earlier, I think it’s a good move to do.”
Keller said that student response was probably positive because of the key card access at all academic buildings except for Fairbanks, which stays unlocked until 11 p.m.
“It’s not as much as an inconvenience for students as it used to be,” Keller said.
Keller said that the only concern of the assembly was keeping individual rooms inside the buildings unlocked so that students could still use them for studying purposes.
Weber said only the exterior of the buildings will be affected by this closing time as opposed to individual rooms.
Other students expressed concerns with regard to the number of doors that actually offer key card access.
Sophomore Alex Felt frequently studies at Jordan Hall late at night and said that sometimes the placement of key card access doors is inconvenient when it’s late.
“It would be more beneficial to have more doors with the key card access,” Felt said. “Butler is really strong and stands out as a university with its academics, and access to study areas is really important for students.”
Weber said that changes to safety take time as a step-by-step process.
“All in all, I’m very happy with the safety of campus,” Weber said. “But anything that a student can do to protect themselves is a good thing.”
Keller agrees, also adding that he is impressed with the police department’s steps in keeping student’s protected.
“I think BUPD is doing a good job to make sure that campus is kept to the people who should be here,” Keller said.