Police chief announces Tap and Go task force

by Stephany Christie / Beacon Staff • October 16, 2014

Emerson Police Chief Robert Smith announced his department will form a student task force to give feedback on its new security procedure at a meeting with the Student Government Association on Tuesday. 

SGA President Emily Solomon said she invited Smith to the meeting to discuss student complaints about the Tap and Go program, which requires everyone entering Emerson buildings to tap their college ID cards.  

“I wanted [Smith] to hear in detail the problems students have been facing,” the sophomore visual and media arts major said in an interview with the Beacon. “And also allow him to fix common misconceptions that students have with the program.” 

The task force is still in preliminary stages, according to Smith. He said that he, Dean of Students Ronald Ludman, and Solomon will meet soon and discuss details. 

At the meeting, Smith said a pilot program was originally put in place in March 2013 after many students complained about a high number of people loitering in the foyers of their residence halls. Many of these trespassers were inebriated and put students in unsafe situations, according to Smith.

“Even if they weren’t bothering you, the potential that they could bother is you is a little off-putting,” Smith said at the meeting. 

In Fall 2012, a man was arrested after he entered the Little Building in the middle of the night. Earlier that semester, another man was found wandering around the Walker Building. 

Today, residence halls are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. for off-campus students, except Piano Row, which is open until 2 a.m. When dorms are locked, residents must tap their student IDs at checkpoints just outside the doors to enter. 

Carly Cazer, the individually designed interdisciplinary program senator and a desk assistant in Colonial Residence Hall, said that the ID scanner in front of her building is faulty.

“There have been times when I have taken my ID out of its holder and pressed it to the scanner for five minutes before a Securitas guard has noticed me and opened the

door for me,” said the junior interdisciplinary major.

SGA members also discussed issues off-campus students may face when prevented from getting into campus buildings at night. 

“What’s really important is that students are feeling unsafe, and they are mainly off-campus students,” said Sarah Barnhard, a junior performing arts major and SGA executive secretary. “Not being able to tap in an on-campus building as an off-campus student makes me feel unsafe.”

Academic buildings are also shut down at different times at night, usually at 11 p.m., according to Smith. Once they are locked down, only professors and authorized personnel are allowed in the buildings.