Keyless entry fosters community

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Keyless entry fosters community

Cody Boland

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Having lived in Macomb since 2007, including three years in three different residence halls, I think it’s fair to say I have a bit of experience to back up my opinion about dorm room living. 

Talking to my friends who are still living a life of RAs and elevators has only further confirmed my opinion on what a terrible mistake it is to use the keyed-elevators system across the campus. Restricting elevator access with a system of floor-specific keys destroys the ability for students to form a residence hall community and turns their building into a prison instead of a home. 

As a young college lad, I spent my first two years living in the residence halls. My freshman year in Thompson was the hall’s last year without keyed-elevators, as they gradually replaced the old push-button elevators with the far more restrictive keyed-based system. My sophomore year led me to Higgins, the only building left that still has unrestricted elevators, where I delighted in randomly visiting my friends’ rooms, and I formed lasting relationships — especially in the blessed Higgins smoking section — that I still maintain years after they left this isolated oasis of Macomb. 

Cut to two years later as I finished my bachelor’s degree. Wanting to avoid the extra stresses of cooking dinner and paying bills, I opted for a super-single in Lincoln, which was one of the worst decisions I made during my college career. My memories of hopping in the elevator to surprise a friend on a different floor gave way to isolated individuals who barely acknowledged each other in the hallways. Even the smoking section was empty, and I don’t think I learned a single name of any of my floormates. It was all of the loneliness inherent in living in an apartment building without the privacy of a personal bathroom, and none of the cost-effectiveness of preparing my own food.

When I lived in Higgins, I was friends with my RA. Each floor was legitimately co-ed, and nothing bad happened because we were treated like adults and acted like (young) adults. Groups of us from a combination of floors would hang out in our open lounge playing Apples to Apples, working on homework or just making fun of our friend’s hot sister. It was truly a community, which, as I recall, is exactly what we were told life in the residence halls was supposed to be.

Friends who have lived in Higgins recently have told me the same stories; in fact, it was a hassle to visit them because they’d end up in conversations with three different people on the way to their rooms. Those who have since moved to other halls express the same feeling of isolation that I felt when I lived in Lincoln.

I sincerely believe that the major difference is the presence of keyed-elevators in the other buildings. I’m sure it’s some University liability issue to lock down students with this illusion of extra security, but it comes at the expense of making dorm life what it promises to be. Criminals can still sweet talk their way up the elevator to steal, and the seclusion this locked-down living instills makes people less likely to even know who belongs on their floor and who doesn’t. The people most inconvenienced are the students living in the hall who never get to meet others that they could potentially form lifelong memories with.

With Higgins on the verge of being shut down, it makes me sad to realize an era of on-campus living is coming to an end. A few years from now, each student will scoff at the RAs when they talk about a residence hall “community,” because all they will know is a prison of locked doors and restricted elevators.