Dorm keys raise security concerns

A student unlocks a dorm with their key.
<br>
Photo provided by Kelby Lorenz

A student unlocks a dorm with their key.
Photo provided by Kelby Lorenz

Viktoria Muench | News Editor
From Print [November 3, 2015]
| Legacy

A rumor that campus keys of residence halls could unlock the front doors to other dorms was found to be true, and the university took action to solve the issue last month.

Terry Russell, the dean of students, said the university was unaware of the security risk.

However, after it was brought to his attention by a Legacy reporter in mid-September, Russell said the maintenance crew was ordered to look into it.

“We had no concrete proof at the time that one key actually worked in another door,” Russell said.”

The newspaper’s investigation found that various keys were able to unlock the entrance doors of other dorms.

For example, the master key of Niccolls Hall was able to open Irwin Hall and Cobbs Hall when tested by a reporter and a member of the residential staff.

Another reporter’s personal key to Parker Hall, which was not a master key, also was able to open Guffey Hall.

The locks on every residence hall entry door have since been changed, Russell said.

As of Nov. 2, the Parker Hall key no longer worked in Guffey Hall.

The Legacy also found that the lock abnormality was common knowledge among residence hall directors.

Blanton resident director Meghan Buerk said the master keys couldn’t actually access the dorm rooms.

“I think that is the reason why it was kind of brushed under the door, because it only concerned the entrances,” she said.”

Jessica Huber, assistant resident director of Niccolls Hall, said that the resident hall staff wasn’t too worried about the issue.

lindenlink
There are keys for different 22 residence halls at Lindenwood, each hosting between 175 and 190 students.
Photo by Romane Donadini

“The topic had come up a few times, but it really wasn’t a big deal to us, but it shows that it is important that the RAs and RDs are all trustworthy individuals,” she said.

After corresponding with a maintenance key specialist, Russell said that the problem likely was caused by the pins inside the locking mechanisms wearing down because of repeated use by the students.

The rate of the wear would depend on the number of times keys were used versus the ID scanner to get into the dorm.

Russell said the pins in the key cores are made out of brass and every time a key goes in and out of the lock, or when the key instead of the door handle is pulled to open the door, the pins inside the shaft can deteriorate.

Ryan Guffey, vice president of student development, said there are different key zones on campus with one system in each zone that works across the entire spectrum.

“Some of these locks had not been changed in about three years,” Guffey said.”

Guffey also said that some of the door locks are very old.

A dorm watch program was introduced last semester to increase the safety of residents, but checking the state of the locks has not been on the school’s safety agenda until now.

Russell and Guffey both confirmed that a routine maintenance schedule has been ordered, where all the locks will be checked periodically.

Russell added that all locks of the entrance doors will be changed at the end of each term.

“I think we took the right action by having them all changed. We were proactive and hopefully, we’ll evacuate the possibility of this happening again,” Russell said.

Changing the door locks will cost about $2,200 every semester, according to Guffey.