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DCL finds a ‘balance’ between two lock-out systems

By Ryan Spencer

Section: News

September 2, 2016

The Department of Community Living (DCL) has updated the procedure for when students are locked out of their rooms. While last year a new lock-out policy was put into place which allowed Community Advisors (CAs) access to master keys, this year that access to master keys has been restricted, according to an Aug. 23 announcement from Tim Touchette, the director of DCL.


Last fall, when CAs were given access to the master keys through a lockbox system in the quad offices, students no longer had to get the key from a Public Safety officer. This policy was changed after Brandeis Police expressed concern that unlocking doors for residents who were locked out “pulled our campus safety officers off of important patrols,” according to Touchette. Having the Brandeis Police unlock doors for residents was also problematic during the busiest times of the evening for lock-outs, which coincided with busy times for the Office of Public Safety, Touchette explained in his campus-wide email.


The master key policy has been revised due to concern over allowing CAs access to master keys, according to the email from Touchette. Last fall, The Brandeis Hoot published an opinion piece in which a student raised concerns about the safety of allowing CAs access to these keys. The Hoot has since retracted the article as it made sweeping claims about DCL without attributing information to named sources, but the article started a conversation about the use of master keys.


Despite concerns, Touchette said, “At Brandeis we have not had any allegations of master key misuse by a CA” since he began working here in August, 2014.


The new policy increases the security of the master keys used by CAs, and Touchette called it a “balance” between the past two systems.


The lock-out policy this year schedules CAs to be in charge of lockouts when they are on duty in the evenings but for Brandeis Police to be in charge of lockouts whenever CAs are off-duty. CAs have access to master keys between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday through Saturday. Furthermore, the master keys now have digital tracking allowing administration to know which CA used a master key and the time and location the key was used. A special chip on CAs’ student IDs give them access to the lock boxes containing the master keys. Each CA only has access to one master key at a time.
When CAs are not on duty Brandeis Police has access to master keys in order to let students into their rooms. In the campus-wide email Touchette suggests that “The easiest thing to remember is that if you are locked out, call Brandeis Police. They will dispatch a CA if our DCL team is on duty or they will send an officer if it is outside the CA duty coverage time.”

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