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First Person Experience: Stranger finds easy access to dorms

Brian Velez
LV Life Editor

During a one-month period I attempted to enter all dorm buildings on the University of La Verne campus.

I was not able to enter the Oaks residence hall, yet entered all other dorms at least five times each on separate occasions.

Doors were held open for me and I passed open rooms with valuables unattended. I scared people, made others laugh when I told them what I was doing, but overall I was able to prove my point that students on campus should be more careful when letting strangers in to their residence halls.

Dorm residents are provided with a list of policies at the beginning of every semester.

One of these policies is to not allow entry to people who are not residents, staff or people not accompanied by a resident.

It is impossible for all residents to know each other and know who should and should not be allowed in. But there is a blurred line, and people who do not belong in a residence continue to be allowed in without question.

While attempting to enter the dorms I would wait outside. Once a student was coming out I would just walk in, and I would always thank them as I entered. Some students were distracted on the phone coming out, others just stood holding the doors open with their backs while in mid-conversation, while I strolled past.

I met freshman Mackenzie Dutton as she did her laundry in Brandt Hall. Dutton looked at me like I was crazy until I introduced myself and let her know who I was.

“Any person could walk in, people need to be smarter,” Dutton she said.

When I entered the residence halls I walked through the entire building. No one, except for freshman athletic training major Abimael Chavarria ever stopped me to ask what I was doing in the residence halls.

Chavarria explained that while people still allow entry to strangers he still feels safe in the dorms.

“Word spreads fast in here, if we see something we will take care of it,” Chavarria said.

I asked Chavarria if he thinks women in the dorm are safe, and what his solution would be if a woman was attacked in their residence hall.

“If she doesn’t want people in there, she can scream and people can hear,” Chavarria said. Unfortunately screams don’t always prevent attacks.

During one of my afternoon intrusions on the fourth floor of Vista La Verne, I passed a study room. Inside was a laptop and backpack but no one to watch it. I stood outside the room for five minutes until I saw a body walking towards the room. Alex Zhen, a business administration graduate student was the owner of the unattended items.

I asked Zhen why he would leave his stuff in a communal room and walk away.

“I just walked down the hall to visit my friend,” Zhen said. “Now I don’t feel as safe, next time I will take my stuff with me.”

Ironically, Zhen has been a victim of recent on-campus crime.

“Someone stole my bicycle in front of the library and my friend’s in front of the bookstore,” he said.

After the bike theft and warning that if I had been someone else he may have lost his laptop, Zhen said he does not feel as secure as he once did here.

“Now I feel that anybody can come in and even put some bombs,” Zhen said.

“I’m not going to stop someone, said sophomore business major Caitlin Baba, though she added, “If it looks like a hobo I wouldn’t let them in.”

Baba said she is not going to confront anyone who tries to enter.

“If they look within reason, I would let them in,” Baba said.

Associate director of campus safety Jeff Clark agrees with Baba. “It is not the responsibility of students to confront people, just call us, call campus safety,” Clark said.

Clark said that since the area around the University is safe students let their guard down while on campus but all students should police themselves and not leave valuables unattended.

Brian Velez can be reached at brian.velez@laverne.edu.

Related posts:

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  2. Residents battle for victory
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  4. Bringing a little spirit to the residence halls
  5. Students take their safety for granted

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