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Campus Council argues for access

Campus Council unanimously passed a resolution Thursday calling for all off-campus students to gain DukeCard access to West Campus residence halls between 9 a.m. and 2 a.m.

The resolution came in reaction to a new University policy that prohibits off-campus students from entering dormitories. The policy came under scrutiny from off-campus residents, including selective living group members who were forbidden card entrance to their own on-campus sections.

"I'm really happy that we were able to act quickly on it," said senior Andrew Nurkin, president of Campus Council. "We really think that if Duke is going to be an inclusive community, all undergraduates are going to need to have access to the residence halls."

The final decision on DukeCard access still resides with administrators, but in Thursday's council meeting, Nurkin read aloud an e-mail from Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta that expressed flexibility on the issue.

"I do not have strong feelings about this issue," Moneta wrote.

Nurkin interpreted Moneta's indifference as a vote of confidence in whatever the Council would decide.

"As far as him not caring, I read that as, 'Do it; we'll go your way,'" Nurkin said. "I read that as support for us, and not that he doesn't care."

Nurkin forwarded the resolution to Moneta after the vote and hopes to have card access in place soon, possibly Monday.

The resolution, submitted by treasurer and sophomore Anthony Vitarelli, focuses on five points.

The main point states that denying card access to off-campus residents actually compromises residence hall safety, because people knocking on doors are now assumed to be off-campus students and frequently admitted by West Campus residents without question.

"It was just faulty of the administration to claim the policy was correcting a safety concern, while it was really just creating new safety concerns," Vitarelli said.

Other points in the resolution address what Campus Council members called the unfairness of denying off-campus residents the opportunity to participate in the University community. The resolution notes that many off-campus residents could not live on West because of financial considerations and that there is a simple lack of on-campus beds for an undergraduate population of about 6,400.

Also, the resolution defended the necessity of card access, pointing to off-campus residents who take house courses and those who participate in fraternities and selective groups that operate largely out of West Campus sections.

In defending the University's decision to restrict card access, Director of Housing Management Fidelia Thomason has argued that denying access to off-campus residents is "a safer way to do it" and that it encourages community development within quadrangles.

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