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After 100-plus lockouts in a few days, Crowell cracks down

With new doors that lock automatically behind them, residents of the renovated Crowell Quadrangle often accidentally lock themselves out of their rooms. 

Now, there are consequences for residents who use the resident assistants for too many lockouts.

Crowell residents received an email Sept. 10 introducing a three-strikes rule. Now, students who use the RA on-call to unlock their door three times over the course of a semester will be “processed through the Office of Student Conduct for a Failure to Comply,” the email said.

Crowell Quad is one of the few quads on campus whose dorms have automatically locking doors. To enter the room, residents need to tap their DukeCard on the electronic keypads and enter a four-digit code.

Between the fall move-in day and the first day of class, there were 100 to 125 lockouts in Crowell Quad, according to Jeremiah Emiliani-Salois, the residence coordinator for Crowell and Wannamaker Quads.

During the first several weeks of classes, RAs on-call for Crowell Quad received on average seven to eight phone calls about lockouts each night. For other quads, there are usually only a few calls, if any.

“I feel the RAs were getting used more as a luxury than as an emergency,” Emiliani-Salois said. 

Emiliani-Salois said that the since Crowell implemented the three-strikes rule, RAs only encountered about one or two lockouts each night.

If resident gets locked out during the day, when RAs are not on-call, they have to go to the Office of Housing and Residence Life to get a temporary key. Those lockouts will not be counted as strikes.

Some Crowell residents—especially those who used to live in dorms with doors that do not lock automatically—said they have not developed the habit of carrying their DukeCards every time they leave the room. 

“I think most people are locking themselves out on accident because they forget the door locks behind them automatically,” said Béa Rose, a sophomore who lives in Crowell.

Rose explained that when she lived in Bell Tower last year, she and her roommate almost never locked their door. This semester, she’s already locked herself out twice—both times, she forgot to bring her DukeCard when she left her room to take a shower, although she didn't call RAs for the lockouts.

Crowell’s policy isn’t new, Emiliani-Salois explained. The Duke Community Standard and the back of every DukeCard read that the card “should be carried at all times.” 

In past years, similar enforcement measures have been put in place in Pegram on East campus as well as other dorms with automatically locking doors.

Savita Gupta, a sophomore Crowell resident, said that she thinks it would be more fair to require residents who get locked out frequently to volunteer or do chores.

“I kind of understand where that side is coming from, that the RAs are frustrated and something needs to be done about it,” Gupta said. “But disciplinary action...for forgetting your key—that seemed a little extreme to me.”

Gupta has already been locked out once, but she didn't get in contact with the RA on-call. After she heard about the three-strikes policy, she bought a phone wallet to help her keep track of her DukeCard.

Emiliani-Salois said that residents who get three strikes would be called to his office to discuss why they’re not carrying their DukeCard. The student would receive a “residence hall warning” and be documented for Failure to Comply, but the disciplinary action wouldn’t go on the student’s record. 

If residents continue to forget to bring their cards and experience lockouts, he might refer them to the Office of Student Conduct, which would decide on further punishments.

“Our RA team was getting calls and texts all throughout the day and all throughout the night,” Emiliani-Salois said. “We tried to wait it out to see if it got better, but it didn’t really until I sent out the email notice.”


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