By Raoul Biron, Contributing Writer
With academic halls open for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, friends could lounge in large lecture rooms and watch movies; lovers could find their solace; cheesy fries could find their way into the carpets; and in the mornings, no one would ever know.
But it became a problem for Kingsbury Hall, enough to warrant the addition of card readers and an access block for all students to the building with the exception of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences (CEPS) program members.
Last fall, a Security Assessment Report on Kingsbury’s security problems was provided to Kevan Carpenter, then-newly appointed Kingsbury Building Manager and CEPS Technician Service Center Manager.
“At this point, conversations began with UNH campus security and the CEPS administrative staff,” Carpenter said. “In the spring of 2014, funding was approved and the project was scheduled for this past summer.”
The report outlined that the security overhaul to the 64-year-old building, which previously underwent a $52 million renovation and expansion in 2007, was completed before the start of this semester and was designed to address very specific concerns shared by both the UNH PD and the CEPS Administration.
“The results of the survey allowed the staff to make informed decisions about safety and access control to the facility, at all times keeping in mind the needs of the facility, the staff and students who use the facility year-round,” UNH Police Chief Paul Dean said.
Dean described the security changes as initiatives that would improve the “safety and security” of Kingsbury and make it “difficult for those who are not part of our campus community from having unfettered access.”
Carpenter echoed this sentiment, stressing the need for increased building security to provide a “safer study and working environment” for the students and faculty that utilize the building on a daily basis.
“The findings indicated that although the building personal security awareness was much higher than the campus average, the building operational security was low,” Carpenter said. “Personal security awareness is more associated with the areas that individuals control access to, such as office space and labs. Operational security is more in alignment with the building entrances and public areas.”
Due in part to its relatively recent and expansive renovations as well as its central location, CEPS and non-CEPS students alike regularly utilize Kingsbury Hall for a wide array of activities, often times past the buildings hours of operation.
Before the security additions were implemented this semester, anyone could gain access to the building. This provided a unique and well-equipped space in which members of the UNH community could turn their ideas into actualities, as well as created the potential for both theft and destruction.
In the past, students have held impromptu film screenings in Kingsbury’s lecture halls, poetry readings, and even Nerf battles.
“We usually do those once or twice every semester using the second and third floors of the North Wing,” said Kaila Salsman, a senior English Teaching major. “They start around ten and go until about midnight. … When the game is over, we look for all the Nerf darts we can find.”
Did custodial staff or other students ever voice a problem with their Nerf fights?
“No, we never had any problems,” Salsman said. “We’d probably still try to put some together, even with the new card readers and cameras. We try to cap it at about 16 people per Nerf war. They’re also always on Fridays to avoid too much disruption.”
Despite the unorthodox and potentially bothersome nature of some of the activities that have taken place in Kingsbury, the building’s security additions seem to be aimed at different and more pressing issues.
“This card access system also enables us to lock the building much faster in response to an emergency,” Carpenter said. “In addition to increasing the safety of the building, it provides an additional deterrent to help prevent vandalism and theft in the building. The card reader access points allow a greater flexibility and control of the access to the building and are now common throughout much of campus.”
Kingsbury now remains open to all students from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m. on weekdays and adheres to slightly more restricted hours on holidays and weekends.
There are five card reader access points that will allow CEPS students to have 24-hour access to the building, as well as newly installed cameras at every entrance and exit.