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American University students question dorm lockout policy

Students at American University are asking questions about a policy dealing with students being locked out of their dorm rooms. The policy states that those living in on campus residences will be charged an administrative fee of $25 on their third lockout request starting this month.

As reported by student publication, The Eagle, American University’s Housing and Residence Life announced new fee in an email to students. Residence Life’s email outlined that as of October 6 it had recorded 1,244 lockout requests across all residence halls on campus since just the beginning of the fall 2022 semester.

This addition of a lockout fee is being assessed to “address the high volume of lockout requests and to ensure residential students are proactive with maintaining access to their room and building.” Housing and Residence Life officials also wrote that the OneCard — American’s student ID — is an “integral part of safety and security of all who live in residence halls.”

Prior to the announcement of these policies, students voiced concerns over the lockout system implemented this semester. In the past, students who were locked out of their dorms could pick up a temporary keycard from a desk receptionist in their residence hall and return it immediately after use.

Now, under the lockout policy, the residence hall desk receptionist on duty must notify the AU Police Department’s communications team, who will then dispatch a designated staff member to unlock the resident’s room between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

After 8:00 p.m., a Resident Assistant on duty will be contacted to help students who are locked out. Temporary key cards will still be issued, but the amount of temp cards issued will be limited as compared to the years past.

Desk receptionist job training treats dorm lockouts in a similar fashion as being locked out of an apartment. 

One desk receptionist told The Eagle that his colleagues were not properly writing down students’ information when they checked out a temp access card, which led to a number of the cards being either lost or stolen. “Even if we did know it was out, we wouldn’t know where to look for it because it was not jotted down on the website,” the receptionist said.

Student concerns over the policy changes seem to stem, in part, from the need to wait for campus PD to respond.

One residential student who has been locked out of her dorm room twice, stated that on one of the occasions, she had to wait in her nightgown, as she was on her way to shower before a morning class. According to that student, the most frustrating aspect of the new policy was the wait time for a solution because she missed the morning class.

Another student, also locked out in the morning on the way to the showers, reported a wait time of 35 to 40 minutes for the RA on duty to help him, stating that AUPD was busy. “It was really a terrible experience obviously because nobody wants to be locked out just in their towel,” he said.

Each student’s third lockout will now carry a $25 fee, as will losing one of the residential temp cards.

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