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Foy Fitness and Recreation Center hand scanner used to gain entrance to the facility. Mahalia Smith | The All State

Campus security, what works, what does not

Earlier this semester, I went to the Foy. I put my A number in and placed my hand over the sensor, only to realize that I was purged from the system again.

I have always wondered why we place our hands on that machine in the Foy entrance, when to get into the dorms and order food, we only need our ID card. It seems unnecessary, especially since the system randomly purges students, and we already give our A number at the entrance.

I spoke with Dave Davenport, Director of the Foy Fitness and Recreation Center, to learn more about this system, called Biometrics. When we register for the Foy, the system records our hand size, not our fingerprints, as I had originally thought. Students do not have to register with the Biometrics system if they choose not to. They can hand their ID over to the front desk, where it will be swiped for access. One of the reasons the Foy has this system in place is because it is considered a more public building than the dorms, and the system records who is in the building.

A common issue with Biometrics at the Foy, is that it often purges students from the system without reason. The system also does not work during a power outage.

“When a student gets purged, they get kicked out of the system when they should not be, and that is an issue,” Davenport said.

All this made me wonder about dorm access, and why it is easier for some students to enter the dorms than to enter the gym. The answer, I found, lies within the security systems.

I spoke with Joe Mills, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of housing. Student residents have access to their dorm with their ID card and room key, which cannot be duplicated anywhere other than APSU. This system keeps doors locked 24/7, and there are also security cameras in public spaces like entrances and exits. The reason for the card swipe system is the same as the Foy’s Biometrics; it records who enters the buildings.

“It puts responsibility back on the students,” Mills said. “The only issue we have is residents letting other people into the building that should not be there, and that is tough for us to monitor.”

Because housing security relies on a sort of honor system, security issues are often caused by student residents themselves. Still, it seems that the card system is the most efficient way to secure the dorms. Unlike the biometric system, students are rarely purged, and the card systems have back-up batteries to withstand a power outage.

While I do like the idea of Biometrics, I do not understand why APSU is using a failed system that kicks people out without warning. If we’re going to use it, we should at least have a system that is dependable, not finicky. The Biometrics system does not work as well as the card-swipe system on campus, and I do not see a reason for it at APSU.

About Mahalia Smith

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