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Picture Credits: St. Michael's College Website

Students living in St. Michael’s College (SMC) residence buildings have been finding creative ways to circumvent the newly installed video security system. On Sept. 29, a poster was set on fire, a light smashed and a card reader damaged in the stairwell of the Sorbara Hall residence building. The perpetrator and motivation behind the vandalism remains unknown.

 

In response to this, residents in the Sorbara and Elmsley buildings are unable to use their swipe cards to gain access to the buildings during quiet hours (after 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, and 12:30 a.m. on weekends). A video intercom now connects them with the porter’s desk, where they must present their T-Card to a camera and state their name, student number and room number in that exact order to be allowed into the building. Less enthusiastic residents are finding resourceful ways to evade the video cameras—in the last two weeks of October, the following methods of entering the building were observed:

 
       -   An improvised doorstop utilising a golf club kept a door ajar while a student went out for a cigarette.
       -   Open windows on the lower level of Sorbara provided an alternative, if somewhat constricted, entrance.
       -   Residents have been seen crouching under the camera, only to stand up and walk in once a fellow                           resident has correctly followed the procedure.
 

Students have described staff’s adherence to the system as “inconsistent,” with multiple instances of students getting admitted into the building with no ID or name presented—seemingly a step backwards in terms of security. Although staff at the porter’s desk declined to give an interview, it can be assumed their job has become more time-consuming, with 560 students living on residence at St. Mike’s.

 

Students condemned the vandalism, with Max Hadley saying, “I don’t know anyone that would vandalize our own building…. We wouldn’t want the cleaning ladies to clear that up.” Although such a response to the vandalism is justified, the new security has clearly backfired, and the creative lengths to which students go to avoid it is evidence of their attitude towards its implementation. Many students feel negatively predisposed to the video system because of the manner in which the vandalism was investigated.

 

Caitlin Gare, a resident in the vandalised building, described how the Assistant Dean of Residence Life pulled her out of the canteen one evening with no explanation and interrogated her to the point of tears. Despite no evidence existing of her involvement in the vandalism, she was accused of lying and told she would have to meet with the Dean of St. Mike’s. “They could’ve investigated better, and the whole experience made me feel like a bad person,” said Caitlin. However, no meeting with the Dean was called, and no further action was taken against her.

 

Further response to the vandalism also included a guest ban on all of Sorbara Hall and threat of fines if these bans were violated. The divisive and ineffective action taken by residence life staff has only furthered what appears to be a growing rift between St. Mike’s and its students. Prior decisions such as the removal of a pool table from Brennan Hall have left students feeling disgruntled towards the overbearing influence of SMC’s management. Although a firm stance is required on vandalism, St. Mike’s should be careful not to alienate its students through unnecessary and antagonistic actions.

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