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Notre Dame alters Irish1Card dorm access policy

The University of Notre Dame is changing its access control policy around the use of student Irish1Cards at campus residence halls. The change will now only permit students to access their own residence hall with a student ID card, replacing a previous policy that enabled students to access all campus residence halls via the Irish1Card.

According to a report from student publication, The Observer, the change will take effect this academic year and will remove the ability for students to access any residence hall that isn’t their own. Prior to the access control change, students were allowed entry into any Notre Dame residence hall between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and midnight on Sunday-Thursday nights, and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Per The Observer report, the decision to restrict dorm access to only residents of each hall is intended to increase campus safety, and is a measure that mirrors similar policies at other universities.

Associate vice president for residential life Heather Rakoczy Russell and Notre Dame Police Department chief Keri Kei Shibata released a joint email on August 19 explaining the change. The email stressed that the decision was made for security reasons and to follow national security trends in academic institutions. Per The Observer’s report, the email in part read:

“Beginning with the fall semester 2019, student access to undergraduate residence halls will be limited to current residents living in the hall. This change will not only be in keeping with national best practices but also ensure greater safety and security for those living in the residence halls.”

In addition to restricting dorm access to only residents, the new policy will also limit non-student card access privileges to “essential staff only.” The email explains that outside vendors, faculty and staff-permitted residence hall access will be “drastically reduced.” The email also notes that “essential staff with residence hall access must use university issued swipe cards; residents should not assist staff with entering halls; and students should notify NDPD if anyone attempts to enter halls without swipe card access.”

Despite the access control change seeming somewhat routine and in keeping with widely held best practices, the new policy has been met with some criticism from the campus community. Notre Dame’s student government issued a statement shortly after the new policy was announced.

“The decision by the Office of Residential Life is very upsetting, and we have heard many concerns from students over the past 24 hours since the policy was announced during RA training. We were not included in discussions on this issue and look forward to meeting with the administration to express the concerns of the student body.”

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