The next time you swipe your DukeCard at a residence hall, you may be surprised by a red light denying you entry. Unbeknownst to most students, administrators changed the DukeCard policy this year by eliminating in-house voting for card access to dormitories and stripping off-campus students' entrance privileges to residential buildings.
"I think the general feeling was that it was a safer way to do it," said Fidelia Thomason, director of Housing Management. "We want to encourage community in the quads and on East Campus."
Students expressed confusion about when and where they can swipe their DukeCards to enter buildings and hoped the University would officially notify the entire student body.
"The cards are our lifelines," said freshman Jennifer Gurevich. "We use them for everything. We should know what it's useful for."
On West Campus, students have access to their own quad's dormitory entrances 24 hours a day. On-campus students can enter other quads between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 a.m.
East Campus students have access to their own dorms 24 hours a day, but they are denied entry into other residential buildings on East and West between 2 a.m. and 9 a.m.
As in previous years, students living on West and Central campuses are restricted from entering any East residential halls.
Students living off-campus do not have card access to any residential halls and can swipe their cards only at academic buildings like computer clusters and libraries.
"They have chosen to live off-campus," Thomason said. "They chose to not be a part of the residential community."
But some off-campus students, such as those belonging to selective houses and fraternities, still feel they are a part of campus life.
"It's awfully hard [to get into West Campus dorms] when it comes to the weekends," said Greg Anderson, a junior in Wayne Manor who lives off-campus. "I have to call in advance."
Senior Blaise DiPersia agreed. "I can't surprise friends and just stop by," he said. "I'm less likely to wind up [on West Campus]."
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Thomason said safety was an important consideration when members of Campus Council and Residential Life and Housing Services held a joint meeting last spring to discuss card access changes.
"An increase in access is a decrease in security," Thomason said. "It's a ground rule we go by."
Some students agreed that any access restrictions are appropriate if they make the student body safer. "Students feel secure if they are the only ones entering the building," said senior Erica Peppers, who lives in the Belmont.
Even though administrators consulted Campus Council about the new card access policy, some students wished they could have been more involved in the decision-making process.
"It would've been nice to have some input," said Anderson, who believes on-campus students should have more say than those living off-campus.
Most freshmen were not concerned about being locked out of West Campus dorms after 2 a.m. Freshman Emily Nolan was confident that any dorm access restrictions would not impact her partying plans on the weekends.
"The dorms are usually open if there's a party," Nolan said. "It's not really a problem."
But others pointed to the denial of access into any dormitories for off-campus students as another measure to reduce the party scene on West Campus--a scene that is quickly moving off-campus.
"This can be one more step to kill the social life and to protect [the students]," DiPersia said. "I can't really blame the administrators."