Last year, Maxwell Micali’s ’12 suitemates often kept their common room door in Jonathan Edwards College propped open for convenience. Worried about theft, Micali said, he installed his own lock on his bedroom door.
It was a precaution he will not need to take this year. Over the summer, the Office of Facilities installed individual bedroom door locks in Jonathan Edwards as part of an ongoing project to upgrade safety in all of Yale’s residential colleges.
The Yale College Council launched a campaign for bedroom locks after a spate of petty thefts in 2007, passing a resolution in favor of installing bedroom locks in all residential colleges. Although the administration approved the plan in 2008, Facilities has faced difficulty in securing funding and navigating fire regulations.
Cost is a consideration, too. Each lock costs between $120 and $180, Norman Brody, associate director of lock facilities, said last fall. The 2009 installations in Berkeley and Silliman, for example, cost a total of $56,000, he said. When originally approved in 2008, the project’s final price tag was estimated to be $1 million.
In the summer of 2009, locks were also installed in Arnold Hall, and they were included in the renovations of Calhoun and Morse. Facilities also scheduled installations in Branford for this summer but had to delay the plan when the college scheduled its own mini-renovation project.
In Jonathan Edwards, Master Penelope Laurans praised the logistical efforts of the college staff in preparing the new keys, spreadsheets and lock-out sheets necessary for making the transition to a more complex key distribution process. Three Jonathan Edwards students interviewed also said they were pleased with the new system.
Raquel Guarino ’13 said the new locks are most useful for preserving students’ all-too-rare sense of personal space.
“People deserve their privacy,” she said.
Both Guarino and Micali dismissed the idea that individual locks might interfere with the communal spirit of suite-style living, as some administrators suggested when the YCC first debated the measure.
“If someone is in there room with the door shut,” Micali said, “they probably don’t want to interact with their suitemates anyway.”
Though a new timeline for lock installation in Branford is still unclear, Branford College Master Steven Smith said he believes the new locks, once in place, will help to address recurrent problems of student theft and negligence.
“Students are extraordinarily careless about locking doors,” Smith said. “They believe they live in a completely safe and secure environment.”
Smith said letting individual students, rather than collective suites, choose whether to keep their doors locked may be the best way to combat theft within the colleges. Smith said he has received specific requests from parents that bedroom locks be added to their children’s Branford rooms, and in those cases, Facilities has made the individual installations.
The upgraded lock system is not, however, without its drawbacks: Colleges will face new logistical difficulties in distributing and storing keys. As Smith notes, this burden will largely fall to master’s and dean’s offices, where staff are already saddled with many key-related responsibilities.
Nora Caplan-Bricker contributed reporting.