After a trial run this spring and a divided student survey, Emerson’s 24-7 security procedure, Tap and Go, has become permanent.
To enter an Emerson building, everyone is now required to tap their college identification card or be signed in as a guest by a member of the student body, staff, or faculty. Previously, visitors were not required to show identification from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except to enter residence halls, according to Emerson Police Chief Robert Smith who announced the change in an email to the Emerson community last month.
“It does make the college a safer place that we know who’s in our buildings,” Smith said in an interview with the Beacon.
In a survey of 1175 students and members of the faculty and staff conducted after the pilot program, 66 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “campus officials should restrict access to campus by those not affiliated with Emerson” and that Tap and Go was “easy to comply with.”
However, when asked if they were in favor of implementing the program on a permanent basis, respondents were divided almost evenly.
In addition, 46 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Tap and Go made Emerson safer, while 24 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed with that statement.
According to an Emerson College Police Department Tap and Go data review provided to the Beacon, reports of theft, graffiti, sex offenses, and suspect investigations decreased during the pilot period compared to the same time frame from the past four years. There were no increases in reports of disorderly conduct, vandalism, suspicious activity, trespassing, shoplifting, or burglary during the pilot.
According to the post-pilot survey, 57 percent agreed or strongly agreed that Tap and Go did not disrupt their schedules, while 36 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed.
“I only noticed crowding on days when it was cold or windy because no one wanted to stay outside for too long. There’s definitely more of a build up the closer it gets to a class starting,” said senior visual and media arts major Connor Buso-Jarnis.
As in the past, only residents of their assigned residence halls will gain entry with their IDs. Guest policies remain the same for students, while faculty and staff may register guests in advance through an online system. Smith said early sign-in capabilities were not extended to students to avoid causing more change than necessary.
This security procedure, which has been implemented every summer since 2004, can be both a comfort and a hindrance, according to students.
“I’m cool with it if it keeps people safe or at least makes them feel that way,” said Buso-Jarnis.
But G’Ra Asim, a writing, literature, and publishing major who graduated this spring, said he was frustrated with the program when he visited the Center for Health and Wellness in August to pick up immunization records he needs for graduate school. Asim said the security guard wouldn’t admit him into the building without being accompanied by a current student or faculty member, and the health office wasn’t answering the phone. The security guard eventually signed Asim in himself.
“I just finished in May, so it seems odd that I’m instantly a stranger, according to the Tap and Go system,” Asim said. “Having to validate yourself as a student each time you enter a building on a campus you pay a lot of money to belong to seems a little obnoxious. But if it makes everyone safer, then I suppose that is a small price to pay.”
According to Smith, there will be additional security officers at the Ansin and Walker buildings for the first few days of the semester to guide entrants and remind them of alternative entrances, like the often less-crowded Boylston Place entrance to the Walker building.