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By the start of winter break, electronic locks will have been installed inside every college house except the Quad.

Credit: Daniel Xu

The traditional brass key lock on the door of your on-campus room is about to get a major upgrade.

Residential Services is in the process of installing electronic locks on the doors of the rooms of the college houses. They are currently finishing installing these locks on the doors of the high rises: Harnwell, Harrison and Rodin. By the start of winter break, locks will be installed in every college house except the Quad, which is slated to receive the locks right after winter break.

The date the locks will be activated is still unknown. Director of Residential Services John Eckman said students won’t have to worry about the new locks in the immediate future though. Residential Services will be meeting within the next few days to discuss a potential timeline for activation. For now, students in houses other than Gregory and New College House are still using brass keys.

Two years ago, these new locks were installed in Gregory College House as a pilot program. After kinks in the system were worked out, the Board of Trustees passed a resolution to allocate $7.85 million for the installation of electronic locks across the college houses.

Once activation is initiated, students will use their PennCards and four digit IDs to enter their rooms. According to Eckman, this method is much safer than the brass keys they use now.

“If you lose your key right now, someone can go up to your room and use your key. But if you lose your ID, they have to have your ID and know your four digit code. So it makes it a lot more secure,” he said.

Activation will be done on a rolling basis, with individual college houses being activated one at a time, in case any problems arise. However, Eckman said problems up until this point have been scarce.

After activation, the brass keys will be recalled. Then the cores of the locks will be changed, rendering the brass keys useless. New brass keys will be distributed only to those who need them, specifically Sabbath-observant students who cannot operate electricity on the Sabbath. After Spring 2017, lock installation will begin on individual bedroom doors within suites.

Residential Services’ initiative to install safer locks comes in conjunction with an initiative led by the Division of Public Safety to increase campus safety. According to Director of Communications and External Relations Barbara Lea-Kruger, students can expect to see new locks in buildings across campus, not just the residential buildings.

Other policies relating to the new locks, such as lockout policies, are still being deliberated. The Residential Services Advisory Board, a group that represents students, meets every Wednesday at 9 p.m. to discuss these issues. The meetings are open to the public, so students who have strong opinions can attend to make their voices heard.

Residential Services expects the initiative to be a successful one.

“We anticipate that in the rest of the buildings it will work as well as it did in the other two [Gregory and NCH]. Students seem to like it,” Lea-Kruger said.