Locks changed in University Apartments without warning to residents
By MADISON HANLEY
At the start of the spring semester, senior Erin Clark discovered that the lock to her balcony door at the University of Mary Washington University Apartments had been changed.
Clark, a historic preservation major, made this discovery after accidentally shutting herself out of her second-floor apartment. Once Clark went to reopen her balcony door, she and her roommates recognized that all of their keys no longer worked on the balcony doors.
“I stepped out onto my balcony to get something. The door closed behind me and locked. I had my keys with me, but they did not work,” said Clark. “During the fall semester they worked. My two roommates’ keys did not work either.”
According to Christine Porter, director of residence life and commuter students, the plan to change the locks in the UMW apartments has been in existence for approximately six years. It was implemented to deter students from sneaking into their apartments during unverified times, thus explaining why Clark’s and other residents of the University Apartments locks were changed.
“We found that students were letting themselves in through their patio doors when the university was closed and when those buildings were closed,” said Porter. “So we had, at that time, made the suggestion that we change all the first floor patio doors so that they were not the same key as the student’s room door.”
Naz Ritu, a senior English major and a University Apartment resident, agreed with the reasoning that Porter applied as to why the locks needed to be changed, and even thought that the plan should be applied to all floors.
“I think all floors [should be changed] because it’s pretty easy to climb through the balcony,” said Ritu.
However, Clark’s apartment is located on the second floor. No reasoning was given as to why the balcony locks in this apartment were changed. Clark said she was frustrated that the lock had been changed, but the main source of her frustration stemmed from the fact that no one warned her locksmiths were going to be in her apartment.
“I don’t like the fact that someone was in my apartment without me knowing. Even when maintenance is in here I get an email or something,” said Clark. “The school has always given a heads up when work was being done. This time they did not.”
According to Porter, the lock change was a university and Residence Life sanctioned activity, and all people involved in changing the locks underwent intensive background checks, thus no security threat was an issue.
Porter also said she regrets that Clark was unaware that locksmiths were in her apartment without her prior knowledge.
“What I do regret, and what is not acceptable to me, is that someone was in there and did not leave a ‘hey were here notice,’” said Porter. “I feel really strongly that if someone was in your space, you should get a little note that says, ‘hey we were changing locks today.’ So that is something that I do regret, and we will work on to make sure that does not happen again.”
Since the time that students discovered their locks have been changed, the plan to implement the new locks has been put on hold as Residence Life reviews the purpose behind the plan.
Residence Life has not given Clark or her roommates a functional key to work the balcony door. For now, Clark and her roommates have limited mobility within their apartment and do not have access to their balcony door.
There is still ongoing debate on whether the locks should only be replaced on all floors. There is no set schedule as to when decisions will be made.