Turnstiles installed in Lawrence Hall over break

Students, staff criticize communication before installation


Photo by Tia Bailey

Turnstiles were installed at the Lawrence Hall entrances over Thanksgiving break.

Written By Diana Navarrete, For The Globe

Students returned to Lawrence Hall after Thanksgiving Break to find four sets of security turnstiles in place at each entrance.

The main purpose for installing the turnstiles in Lawrence Hall was to address concerns about unauthorized people entering the building behind other students and for extra security. 

“So, when students are swiping their cards, people that are not affiliated with the university can walk into the building behind them, and then have free reign to be in and about the building,” Sergeant Angela Mariani said. 

It was deemed necessary to install turnstiles in Lawrence Hall because of the constant activity. The next planned building that has similar issues is West Penn, although the date of when the turnstiles will be installed is unclear. It will not be this semester or the next, but it will be installed, according to Mariani. 

“We’re looking at mainly the buildings that have a lot of activity in and out of the front door, where the door is open. More times than not, so the problem with the chance of somebody coming in is higher in those buildings,” Mariani said. 

Some students and staff in Lawrence Hall were unaware that the two sets of 3-foot turnstiles would be installed in front of the inner doors on both sides of Lawrence Hall over Thanksgiving Break. The installation was planned four months ago and is estimated to take each person 1.5 seconds to get through, wrote Assistant Vice President and Chief of Police Jeffrey Besong in an email. 

The email was sent Oct. 1 alerting students that the turnstiles would be installed. 

“I wanted to alert you to some changes coming to Lawrence Hall to better control access and assist our guests. In the coming weeks, turnstiles will be installed in Lawrence Hall to help stop unwanted persons from entering the building. In the future, turnstiles will be added to other University buildings,” wrote Besong. 

No other update or notification was sent out or received by students since that email. 

“I don’t check my emails. I haven’t seen anything,” said Trina Jaustene Guajardo, a freshman Public Relations and Advertising major and resident of Lawrence Hall. “Not many people check their emails, so I don’t get why they resort to that.” 

Lawrence Hall mail clerk Lisa Kasper was not notified of the security changes. 

“There were no emails, no nothing,” Kasper said. “There was a rumor mill saying they were going to do it.” 

Both students and Kasper acknowledged the lack of communication to everyone about when, why and if the turnstiles would actually be installed. 

“You would think they would be telling, keeping everybody up to date to what’s going on and asking for opinions and their thoughts and everything on it before they did it,” Kasper said. 

Freshman Jaustene Guajardo said that the email that Besong sent on Oct. 1 left her with questions. 

“Like, they just said, its ‘unwanted persons.’ I think it’s way too vague, and a lot of persons like who?” Guajardo said. “I don’t know how many people actually entered. Did it happen once? Did it happen twice, three times, how many, how did they get in?” 

Two freshmen residents of Lawrence Hall believed that the turnstiles were unnecessary and not worth spending money, specifically tuition money if that was the case. 

Mariani said that she expected people to have mixed emotions about the turnstiles, but that safety is important and soon would become a daily routine to get into the building. 

“You can’t complicate it with the why’s and the where’s, and you just have to look at it as like we have people getting into the building that aren’t supposed to,” Mariani said. “How do we keep them out and then come up with a solution.” 

Point Park Police had to take many factors in account when implementing the turnstiles and did not want to make access more difficult for students, faculty and staff.  

“So, the only thing we can do is just try and keep Point Park, people in our buildings, and the rest. We don’t want to discourage people from coming into our buildings, if they are authorized to come in,” Mariani said. 

Yet, some students were not satisfied with the school’s reason for the turnstiles. 

“I feel like either way there’s still going to be people who can get in the building, no matter what you do. So, I feel like turnstiles [are] not really going to make that [much of] a difference,” cinema major Izzy Ervin said. “It just takes away money from other things in the school.” 

Lauren Reuther, a psychology major, also remained unconvinced with the school’s reason for installing the turnstiles. 

“I feel like it creates more problems than it fixes,” Reuther said. 

Reuther said that the turnstiles were “out of place” and “pointless.” In her opinion, it would have been better and served the same purpose of extra security with a desk attendant. 

“Students would be more comfortable if there is just a security guard there at all times, like with my building,” Reuther said. “That makes people feel safe number one. Number two, there wouldn’t be long lines outside. People just waiting to get in the building.” 

Freshman student Guajardo was frustrated with not knowing about the turnstiles in Lawrence Hall and predicted it to be chaotic. 

“We really should [know] since we’re going to be the ones that have to scan in every single day, but none of us know that’s going to happen. So, when we come back from break [and] try to get back into our dorms after coming back home, we’re going to be like…how do I get in?” Guajardo said. “It’s going to be chaotic, that first day we come back.”

So far, students do not have to scan in to get into Lawrence Hall as the turnstiles have not been activated. 

According to maintenance workers, the turnstiles will not be activated until either finals week or the Spring 2020 semester.