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Coronado weekend security increased

MALLORY LORING/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Coronado residents and visitors wait in line before gaining entry into the dormitory on Friday night. All must go through a checkpoint to verify that they are allowed in the building.
By Ty Young
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday September 8, 2003

Residence Life tightened security in the Coronado Residence Hall Friday, forcing guests to sign-in and provide two forms of identification in order to visit their friends.

Although a report surfaced concerning a Coronado resident who was sexually assaulted on Aug. 30, Jim Van Arsdel, director of Residence Life, said the timing of the increased security was coincidental.

Arsdel said the heightened security came after staff members noticed an unusual amount of non-residents milling about the building.

"This has nothing to do with the sexual assault," he said. "Whatever information we have does not suggest that was carried out by somebody outside the building. Truly, there is no relationship at all, it's just a matter of coincidence."

On Tuesday, UAPD spokesman Sgt. Eugene Mejia said the case was under investigation, but preliminary findings determined that the claim was "unfounded," and that it would not be labeled a sexual assault.

As of Friday the case was still under investigation.

In a letter distributed Friday to Coronado residents and staff, Van Arsdel stated that guests of residents will have to provide two forms of identification in order to gain access into the building. They will also need to write their names in a guest log that stipulates who is allowed to visit the hall.

Residents will need to escort guests throughout the building after they are signed in.

The new security measures will take place Thursday through Sunday nights for an indefinite amount of time.

In the first line of the letter, Van Arsdel referenced the resident's sexual assault allegation, but insists that it had no bearing on the new security measures.

"It was decided (to increase security) on Friday which was clearly after the sexual assault last weekend," he said. "Just because one thing occurs before another doesn't mean that it is causative."

Coronado staff members have reported a number of non-residents inside the dorm, Van Arsdel said. Given that the doors are locked 24 hours a day, this was alarming to Residence Life officials.

"We've seen a lot of guests that have been walking around the building unescorted and that's asking for trouble," Van Arsdel said.

Coronado will be the only residence hall to use these new security measures. This is because residents have aided in non-residents gaining access to the hall, said Van Arsdel.

"Most residents, for whatever reason, make it awfully easy for them to get in," he said. "They'll hold the door for them even though they've never seen them before in their lives. We're doing something that we can do right now, hoping that it will have an immediate impact."

Students have said they support the tighter security, although the additional wait time has hindered the normal progression through the lobby.

Friday night, Coronado resident assistants were putting up large signs on the walls and floors directing students and guests into two lines. Residents were forced to wait for their guests to provide identification.

Nearly a half hour later the guest line stretched to the lobby door.

"I think it is great that they're checking everybody's IDs and everything, but it is a pain," said Katie Hollingsworth, an elementary education freshman. "I think a lot of students are annoyed by it, but I think it is a good measure."

Hollingsworth added that she is happy that the new security will help reduce the danger of uninvited guests milling about the residence hall.

The threat of outsiders amongst students was an issue for her even before the tighter security was enforced.

"I think a lot of people were afraid that there may be some weird guy walking around the building," she said. "It is really frightening."

Justin Strachan, an undeclared freshman, said he has seen an increase in awareness amongst female residents since rumors of the alleged sexual assault got out.

"I've come in contact with some women in the dorm that feel unsecured," he said. "This should help people feel a little safer."

Residence Life is paying special attention to those taking part in "coat-tailing." That occurs when people wait outside residence hall doors and enter with others.

Despite the recent security measures, Van Arsdel said the practice of "coat-tailing" is difficult to stop.

"We really feel that we need to get a handle on that," he said. "I don't know that we'll ever completely eliminate it because there are other doors in the building that people will go out of and anybody outside could wait and go in."

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