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Security gates a possibility

The University plans to install six entrance gates around campus to try to improve security. This will be a test project and may be completed before the fall semester.

This is one of several projects to promote safety around campus, said Bruce Benson, assistant vice president of public safety. With 17 entrances on campus, the six to be gated have not been chosen, although the main entrances on Fowler and Fletcher Avenues will remain open. The gates will be locked from midnight to 6 a.m. daily.

“We’ll try to get off-campus people, especially during late night hours, not to be quite as comfortable with just cruising the campus in a vehicle,” Benson said. “I think it’s a good pilot. We’ll look at it and see how it works.”

The cost has not yet been determined, but Benson believes it will be inexpensive.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) wants to concentrate on reducing crime around the university area, more commonly known as “suitcase city,” Benson said. With the sheriff’s office stepping up enforcement around the area, the fear is that crime will instead come to campus. Major Louis Hollinshead of HCSO said there are no plans to change the way they are policing the area, but thinks the gates will help.

“It seems like a good idea on the surface,” he said. “They will be able to monitor more so than in the past once the plan is implemented.”

Peter Baker, a Student Government senator, does not think the gates are a good idea, however.

“If we start testing gates out now, we run the risk of turning USF into a pan-optic Orwellian nightmare,” he said.

Alexandra Houle, a senior, is worried about where the money for the gates will be coming from.

“The spending for actual education is lowering day by day, yet they are using money for gates,” said the international studies major. “It’s not gates that are needed, it’s actual education. This a school, not a prison.”

The gates are just one of the ideas Benson has to make the campus a safer place to be. Other ideas include giving AlliedBarton guards elevator keys and hiring an emergency operations manager.

“We are continually looking for any additional tactic that we can use, either by safety people, by other faculty, staff, students, to add one more dimension to make this place just a little bit safer,” Benson said. “And we will continue along that line. None of those individually will do the trick, but as we continue I think we will end up with a much safer campus.”