NEWS: ID-tech entry for ‘safest place in the neighborhood,’ says Truman Security

  By Steven Misho, Staff Writer

Turnstiles in place at Truman College West Entrance. Photo credit: Gina Marie Robinson

Beginning next semester, brand-new turnstiles to be will installed across campus that will require scanning of new chip-embedded IDs for access to Truman.

Andres Durbak, Truman’s Director of Security, explained that the updated IDs carry miniature chips tuned to a specific radio frequency. When these Radio-Frequency-Identification-Cards (RFIDs) are scanned, the turnstiles will read the number of the card and search for a match within a personal database to unlock and allow access to be granted. Security has not forgotten about those without identification, as a separate lane for stray students, faculty and visitors is to be implemented.

Durbak referred to the installation as a way to “limit officer/student interaction.” He further explains that by “using technology to take away tasks” from security personnel, students with IDs can simply move on as opposed to showing their IDs to guards every time they enter. Guards meanwhile can stay vigilant for unauthorized entries, among other matters.

Durbak acknowledges that the transition from manual to automated entry will have a learning curve. “(As) with all processes, there are some people that’ll be disgruntled.” Durbak knows that in the beginning, the new system will be a hassle, though guards will be present to ease students into the new process.

He compared the new ID process with that of the CTA’s Ventra system, common method of transport for Truman students using the U-Passes. As both systems rely on the cataloguing of RFIDs, he predicts no major kinks in the transition.

Others have also reacted to the coming change. Professor Christina Aguila, a Truman veteran, is perfectly okay with the addition. Aguila currently feels mostly safe at the campus. If there is a disturbance, Aguila states, “we call security and they come.” She also says that there is “nothing wrong with security measures,” speculating that a rise in safety challenges in the Uptown neighborhood (such as a rise in shootings) may have been a catalyst for the installation.

Student opinion meanwhile is mixed. A survey taken of 12 randomly-picked Truman students saw a complete 6-6 split on whether the turnstiles would actually improve security on-campus. Those for the installation took a similar stance to that of Professor Aguila, feeling that the turnstiles would improve the already-safe feeling at Truman, given the negative reputation of the surrounding Wilson neighborhood. They’re sure the turnstiles will keep out “gang-bangers” and other seedy characters.

Those against the installation seemed to view the turnstiles as potential nuisances as opposed to campus improvements, worried that the new technology either wouldn’t stop a persistent enough antagonist (like a shooter) or wouldn’t have any major impact on the safety of the campus. Student Darnelle Slaughter calls the turnstiles a “waste of money” and is convinced that they will “cause more friction” between students and security. Ciera Davis finds herself aghast at use of school funds for more technology as opposed to “…using that money on (financial aid).”

However, Truman College isn’t the only facility implementing this system. Harold Washington College has had RFID turnstiles (using older models compared to the ones to be used here at Truman) installed since 2012. Jason Astorga, former writer for Harold Washington’s newspaper The Herald explains that the installation at HW came about after a woman was attacked on the fifth floor of their Library. A 2012 article by The Herald saw the response from HW students mirroring those of Truman’s just before the installation while also sharing many of the same doubts. Astorga saw himself dismissive of Truman’s own turnstile plans, calling them “another obstacle to get into the school.”

Other members of Security have shown more positivity toward the change. One guard (remaining anonymous) echoed Durbak’s sentiments regarding the adjustment, saying that it will “work out after a while.” saying that those that cannot be “swiped in” can be “checked manually.” He is also hopeful that the adjustment process can be hastened with cooperation from Truman faculty.

Turnstiles have already been installed in the back of the McKeon Building, but remain inactive. More are being built within the building’s front lobby. Construction is estimated to be finished by the start of the Spring 2014 semester. Those that have yet to update their IDs are heavily encouraged to do so.

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