Students in Yale’s nine renovated colleges will soon no longer need to trust their suitemates to knock during private moments.
In a meeting yesterday morning, the University Housing Committee approved a Yale College Council proposal that calls for the installation of locks on the doors of in-suite bedrooms, potentially as early as the end of the summer. The proposal — first delivered to administrators in late October — won the support of University deans and college masters Monday, but it is not yet clear how and when it will be implemented.
“This is the biggest thing we’ve done since financial aid, and one of our biggest accomplishments all year,” YCC President Rebecca Taber ’08 said of the proposal’s approval.
Under the proposal, all undergraduate bedrooms in Yale’s 12 residential colleges and dormitories on Old Campus currently lacking locks would be outfitted. Unlike the doors leading from suites onto entryway landings, many in-suite bedrooms currently do not have locks.
The YCC’s proposal also calls for a single key that would fit a student’s bathroom, suite door and bedroom door. Details regarding the timing of the installation have not yet been set, but YCC members and University administrators said it would be reasonable for lock installation to take place during the summer months, when most students are away from campus.
The installation process will require work on nearly 2,000 doors and could cost the University as much as $1 million, Yale College Dean of Administrative Affairs John Meeske said. But the added security provided by a bedroom lock is more than worth the price and the effort, administrators said Monday.
“I’ve always been for it,” Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry said of the proposal. “I think it’s important that individual students have the opportunity to lock their own doors and not have to depend on somebody else who may or may not forget to do that in the suite.”
Council of Masters Chair and Silliman College Master Judith Krauss wrote in an e-mail that college masters “wholeheartedly support the project and think it will increase security consciousness among students.”
Discussion of the issue began among YCC members early last semester, Trumbull College Representative Tomas Rua ’10 said, and the Council submitted a formal proposal to Yale College Dean Peter Salovey in late October.
The YCC has unsuccessfully floated similar proposals several times in recent years, Rua said, but administrators at the time feared that installing locks on bedroom doors would detract from the communal quality of suite living.
But following a rash of dorm break-ins in September, YCC members and administrators said, the desire to improve room security trumped those concerns about community.
When the University began the residential-college renovation cycle in 1998 with Berkeley College, administrators decided not to add locks to bedroom doors because fire regulations would have required that nearly four out of 10 bedrooms in Berkeley not have locks so that they could serve as emergency exits.
“We didn’t want to have a situation where there were locks on some doors and not on others, because students would say, ‘Why does he have a lock and I don’t?’ ” Meeske explained.
But later renovations minimized the number of suites with exit routes that were only accessible through student bedrooms, Meeske said. For those fire doors within bedrooms that are still in the path of exit routes, Meeske suggested the University might create electronic locks that would open automatically in the event of an emergency, but he said nothing has yet been finalized.