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University of Utah bolstering access control policy

Andrew Hudson   ||   Feb 14, 2019  ||   ,

The University of Utah is now revisiting its access control policies for campus residence halls and updating its guest policies following the death of student on campus last October. In total, the security overhaul has plans to implement upwards of 30 campus safety recommendations.

As reported by local CBS affiliate KUTV, many of the recommendations deal specifically with on-campus housing, which serves some 3,800 Utah students. Those recommendations follow reports from investigators that the student's killer had “easy access” to residence halls.

Already implemented has been a visitor policy refresher, including how to enforce the policies, for all university housing staff. The university has also assembled a task force that is asking other universities for best practices regarding overnight guests as part of a larger review of Utah’s policy.

Utah also plans to install more door access readers to restrict access to campus facilities. Currently, students swipe ID cards at the perimeter doors of residence halls. Following the new installation students will swipe a second time once inside the building to gain access to the lobby area, elevator or stairs.

Utah is still in the process of acquiring funding for the additional card readers, at which point the installations can commence. The university has set a completion date for the project at end of this spring semester.

Another access control danger that the university is trying to curb is one that campuses across the country face: tailgating. “No tailgating zone” posters have been hung around campus as a first step in the education efforts.

The university has also posted a listing for a new "resident outreach coordinator" position, whose role will be to address students’ housing concerns. Hiring is expected to take place in April. “This person will have sole responsibility to follow up and make immediate contact with those students as soon as we become aware of their situation,” said Barb Remsburg, director of housing and residential education at the University of Utah.

The full list of 30 safety recommendations and the university’s progress on each item has been published in full on the University of Utah's website. The resource lists a number of recommendations related to suspicious behavior and providing students with the necessary tools to report it to police. Other recommendations call for the physical access control changes to be made as a means to better secure Utah's campus and its community.

Per the resource page, the university is currently working on, has completed, or has set action dates for all 30 of the proposed recommendations.

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