Students who live in the Bayit, the University’s Jewish program house, found life a little more dorm-like when they arrived on campus this year. A card-access system and a new door alarm that signals when the back door has been open too long replaced the tradtional lock-and-key system.

This change to The Bayit is just on of many security changes that were made on campus over the summer. In addition to the Bayit, 200 High Street also received card access. Also, the security camera installation on Vine Street that was delayed last year was completed over the summer. A code-lock was installed on the door leading to The Argus and WESU offices above Broad Street Books.

“A lot of these things are not a result of [the Johanna Justin-Jinich tragedy]. They’re ongoing issues that we’ve been addressing around campus,” said Director of Public Safety (PSafe) Dave Meyer. “We constantly look for ways to make it better, safer.”

While many of the projects were planned to be completed during the summer, some of them appear to have been bumped up to be completed earlier than planned. Although the Bayit was converted to card system access over the summer, it does not appear on the list of buildings slated for Major Maintenance in 2010 that was published in spring of last year.

“I don’t want to say we don’t look at what happened at Broad Street and review it,” Meyer said. “But I don’t want to make it look like everything is a reaction.”

Jen Liebschutz ’11, the house manager of The Bayit, said that she thinks card access is beneficial.

“I think that people who live here and members of the Jewish community who use this space feel more comfortable coming here,” she said. “They know that it’s a secure building.”

Liebschutz said that in previous years, when the Bayit hosted Shabbat dinner services on Friday nights, they would prop the door open to allow students to enter. Now, on Friday nights between 5:30 and 8:30, any student with a WesID will have access to the Bayit.

Recent card access installations in other buildings have already proved to enhance security. Last year, a second card access system was installed in Hi-Rise, making residents swipe their WesIDs twice to enter the building. There were some complaints about the inconvenience, but Meyer said that vandalism and other crimes are already down as a result.

“I think the WSA [Wesleyan Student Assembly] is realizing the importance [of these types of safety measures] because they were helping push to get the Vine Street cameras up this summer too,” Meyer said.

Eventually, many buildings that students live in will have card access installed. Program houses and other residential units receive them periodically as maintenance plans allow.

“One of the great things about card access is key control but at some point it doesn’t pay to do that,” he said. “We’re still fine-tuning the cut-off point. Six and eight bed units might be where we stop. To put it in a four-person unit isn’t the best use of money. We could do different and better things for those units than put card access on them.”

PSafe is also exploring other security changes for the future. They plan to offer a woman’s self defense course beginning soon.

“We sent three people to an intensive three-day course to be instructors as part of our ongoing service,” Meyer said.

Meyer is working closely with the Middletown Police Department (MPD) to make sure the relationship between PSafe and MPD remains mutually beneficial.

“One thing that went well last year was the cooperation between us and the police department,” he said. “We want to make sure that continues.

PSafe is also continuing to do smaller projects that it hopes will enhance security on campus. It recently completed its annual effort in conjunction with Physical Plant to check that all on-campus lighting is working correctly. It is also continuing student outreach, planning to make its website more student-friendly and continuing its Adopt-a-Dorm project in which an officer is assigned to each of the first-year dorms.

“We’ve been doing things every year,” Meyer said. “We always look at what we could do better, how we could do it better, what’s out there to make it better.”

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