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MIT revamps security measures in dormitories

Posted by Your Town  August 12, 2013 05:05 PM

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MIT kicked off a three-year plan to improve its residential security today by implementing new safety measures in several dormitories.

University officials first told The Tech that it is revamping security at five undergraduate residences and two graduate residences. The school said in a statement on Aug. 9 that it has hired professional security staff to monitor a new security system in each affected building. Residents will now be required to tap their MIT identification card before entering, and some doors will be converted into “exit-only” doors.

The statement also said that residents will have the option to create a list of guests who are allowed to enter the dorm unescorted between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.

“The policies are intended to balance security needs with residents’ requests for flexibility and convenience,” Daniel Roderick, director of Housing Operations in Residential Life and Dining, said in the statement.

The new safety measures are the result of a study done by MIT’s Residence Hall Security Review Committee in 2012. The committee consisted of students, faculty, MIT police officers, and staff from the Division of Student Life and the Security and Emergency Management Office. To develop the program, the Division of Student Life sought advice from outside consulting groups.

The announcement for increased security follows a semester of cyber-security breaches, a hoax report of a gunman on campus, and the murder of an MIT police officer while he was on duty.

In the weeks after Aaron Swartz committed suicide, the MIT Campus network was hacked at least three times, and Swartz was mentioned by name in a minimum of two of the attacks.

Swartz killed himself in January in New York, following a two-year legal battle in which he faced a number of charges for hacking into the JSTOR archive system on the MIT network. He allegedly downloaded more than 4 million articles, some of which were behind a paywall.

In late February, the Globe reported that an unidentified caller falsely reported that a gunman was on the MIT campus. Several days after the hoax, an MIT official confirmed that the caller said the gunman was seeking revenge for Swartz’s suicide, and that the gunman planned to shoot the school’s president.

Then the pair of brothers accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings engaged in gunfire with police officials on MIT’s campus in April. While sitting in his cruiser, MIT Police officer Sean Collier, 26, was shot and killed.

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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