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Campus housing safety updates

Housing & Residential Education has enhanced its physical infrastructure, staffing, policies and protocols.

The University of Utah is committed to fostering a culture of safety on campus. Over the last several months, Housing & Residential Education has begun the process to enhance its physical infrastructure, staffing, policies and protocols to better serve the nearly 3,800 students that live on campus each year.

Major enhancements include 175 new secure access points to be installed in the multi-level buildings at Sage Point, Shoreline Ridge, Benchmark Plaza, Gateway Heights and Chapel Glen. New walls and doors will require a second UCard swipe before entering a residential space. UCard swipes will also be required to access elevators and stairwells. These measures will allow the residence halls to be locked down, if needed, and are designed to reduce the number of tailgating incidents.

Tailgating is when a resident who has access to the building lets someone into the building without an escort. The practice is prohibited at the University of Utah, and an educational campaign to address the issue is now in effect.

“Our residence halls are our students’ homes, and we want them to follow their gut instincts,” said Barb Remsburg, executive director of Housing & Residential Education. “It’s ok to be cautious, to ask questions and to shut the door. Remember, it’s not rude to be safe.”

Additionally, updates were made to the overnight guest policy to make it more proactive and inclusive. The most noticeable update is a required pre-registration process. Below is a summary of the updated policy:

  • Guests cannot stay more three consecutive nights and no more that 10 nights per semester.
  • Roommate approval of any overnight guest is required.
  • Hosts must pre-register guests using the “Register your Guest” housing portal form before 9 p.m. the evening the visit begins.
  • Required guest information includes the guest’s full name, date of birth, a close-up photo of the guest, and parent/guardian permission for guests under 18 years old.

A new resident outreach coordinator position was created and filled to better support residents. This position will streamline the reporting process, help address concerns and connect students to campus resources. The person in this position also sits on the university’s Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT), a group that brings diverse expertise and tools to address issues.

The historic buildings on Officers Circle also received security updates: 50 security cameras were installed and positioned to survey the exteriors of buildings and entrances. Upgrades were added to the porch lights to keep them on at night. Additionally, 20 exterior doors will be replaced or updated to provide card-swipe access, better insulation and double-pane glass. Special care is being taken to prevent damage and adhere to the historic aesthetic of these buildings.

Three newly hired security officers from the University Department of Public Safety are now staffing the Housing information desks during the night hours, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The security officers work at the information desks in the Peterson Heritage Center, Lassonde Studios and the Marriott Honors Community. A fourth security officer will be hired when the new Kahlert Village housing and dining facility opens in August 2020.

“These officers will be available to assist students with questions during the night, as well as oversee the security and safety of the buildings and residents,” said Remsburg. “If a student finds themselves in physical or mental distress, the officers will activate the university’s extensive resources to best serve that individual. They can also help students who have lost their ID cards or physical keys. They will patrol the first-floor building premises and ensure doors are properly secured at night.”

 These updates came after an independent review team developed 30 recommendations for the University of Utah after the death of U student Lauren McCluskey in October 2018. The recommendation stated that Housing should evaluate its overnight process, security policies and consider modifying older dorms to provide some form of control as to who enters and leaves dorms in addition to the card-key access system in place in both older and newer dorms.