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‘Safety is our No. 1 priority’

University equips all residence halls, classroom buildings with new access controls

Contact: ​Jeff Johnston

​When students return to Central Michigan University's 22 residence halls and Graduate Housing in August, every one of them will benefit from building access security measures already in place or being added this summer.

Likewise in CMU classrooms and auditoriums, mechanical and electronic door locks are being added campuswide so rooms can be secured from the inside. Installation is underway as part of summer construction.

"The three-phase project started in 2016 and includes 20 buildings — 19 on campus and the College of Medicine educational facility in Saginaw," said Jonathan Webb, CMU associate vice president for facilities management. "Phases 1 and 2 of the project are complete, and phase 3 will be complete by August."

CMU Police Lt. Mike Sienkiewicz said the work is about creating layers of protection.

"At CMU, safety is our No. 1 priority," Sienkiewicz said. "We have a very safe campus and the lowest crime rates of any university in the state, yet things can happen anywhere at any time.

"We want CMU students, faculty and staff to be prepared to handle any situation and come out safe."

Expanding on a good start

CMU introduced electronic building access last year in the Towers community — Carey, Cobb, Troutman, Wheeler, Campbell, Kesseler and Kulhavi halls — and in Graduate Housing.

Public areas of the Towers complex are accessible during the day, but to get into a residence hall wing you have to be a resident and scan your CMU ID at an electronic card reader.

"We're locking the 'front door' of our students' living spaces," said Kathleen Gardner, director of Residence Life. Feedback has been positive from students — and their families: "They want this for their students," Gardner said.

Ready for the rollout

Just like at the Towers, staffed entrances and main corridors at other residence hall communities across campus will remain open for access to classrooms and residential restaurants. But access to residential areas will be limited to those living in each residence hall community.

Gardner said student desk assistants in each community are part of the safety system, too. They are trained to observe, know safety procedures and when to call for police assistance — all while helping provide information and answer residents' questions.

"We can be friendly and safe; they are not mutually exclusive," Gardner said.

John Kassuba, assistant director for facilities operations in residence life, said details of building security will be part of students' move-in information.

CMU Police Lt. Cameron Wassman said this summer's work is part of an ongoing process.

"Just like the first round of access control, certainly these additional pieces further strengthen our aim of keeping things secure and giving people the opportunity to stay safe," Wassman said.

Additional campus safety information and resources can be found on the CMU Police website.

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