Photo by John Martin | Dorm locks across campus have been breaking, locking residents out of their rooms or not locking at all.
Recently, students of the University of Rhode Island have complained about issues regarding the locks on their dorm room doors.
To enter any residents room at the University of Rhode Island, each student must swipe their identification card and enter a four-digit pin.
URI’s resident hall lock system has faced issues lately ranging from dead batteries to failures in the magnetic swipe system. For freshman Devon Libutti and senior Tamara Jere, this problem has been frightening and frustrating. Their locks broke before classes even started.
Libutti went to the Department of Housing and Residential Life after her ID card was not working and was let into her room. She and her roommates believed their lock had a battery issue, as those are not unusual on campus despite the fact that the Department of Housing and Residential Life replaced all batteries over the summer in preparation for move-in weekend. When they realized that the battery was not the problem, they did not know what to do or who to seek out for help. Instead, the roommates propped their door open with a door stopper, hoping nobody would come in and steal anything.
Senior, Tamara Jere, knew exactly who to contact when her lock broke the day she moved in. When the locksmiths arrived at her dorm on Monday, they were unable to fix the problem as they did not have the proper parts. Two days later, on Wednesday, when her lock had still not been fixed, she went to the offices of Housing and Residential Life services located underneath the B tower in Hillside Hall. She was again not given answers and instead was given the advice to keep calling and pressuring the locksmiths to come and help her.
The locksmiths arrived on a Friday and fixed her lock, explaining that with the students having left the air conditioning on and the windows open all summer, the condensation was affecting the locks and the doors. A friend of hers in Wiley Hall had to have her door shaved down because the condensation caused it to stick to the door’s frame. Jere said that she knows of many others with similar stories.
Charles Hall, the assistant director of Housing and Residential Life Automatic Services, gave a different perspective. The department oversees over 6,200 students in 21 different undergraduate halls, three undergraduate apartment complexes, and one graduate apartment complex. “There are over 4,000 locks,” Hall said. “Occasionally, a lock will have an issue.”
Every single morning between four and six in the morning, the locks are scheduled to “wake up” and report a varied amount of information about the specific locks, including voltage.
Hall explained that a dead battery is any battery with less than five volts and that whenever anything is below six volts, they proactively go out to change it. In a matter of minutes, he was able to look up Libutti’s lock, find that it had eight volts, and put in a work order. Her lock was fixed on Monday, four days later, the same amount of time it took Jere’s lock to be repaired.
Hall stated that the broken locks are of the highest priority among work orders. However, there are only so many locksmiths and there are always going to be issues, especially within the first week. There may be some backlog in work orders, but there will never be a problem reported that does not get fixed.
Hall wants students to know that if there is an issue, it is important to tell a resident advisor and for a resident advisor to know that if a student does have an issue, a simple work order will help to get it fixed.