EDITORIAL: USF’s plan for gates a security waste

In an attempt to beef up security, the University is planning a pilot project to install gates at six of USF’s 17 entrances, not including the main entrances at Fowler and Fletcher.

The gates would be closed between midnight and 6 a.m. to prevent people from USF’s surrounding areas from committing crimes on campus.

Assistant Vice President of Public Safety Bruce Benson said he hopes to have the project in place before the fall semester.

“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. I think it’s a good pilot. We’ll look at it and see how it works,” Benson said.

Although Benson said he believes the pilot will be inexpensive, spending money on any new venture without a clear estimation of its cost is unwise in light of USF’s economic hardships.

It is also debatable whether installing gates at just over 1/3 of the campus entrances will even be an effective security measure.

“It seems like a good idea on the surface,” Major Louis Hollinshead of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said. “They will be able to monitor more so than in the past once the plan is implemented.”

But without security officials monitoring traffic at the remaining entrances, getting onto campus to commit crimes will be as easy as going around the corner to another entrance.

For criminals hoping to enter campus by foot or bike, maneuvering around the gates simply requires sidestepping them. Unless USF plans on building a wall around the entire campus, these gates will only serve as minor roadblocks for those wanting to breach campus borders.

Some students have expressed worries that gates will make the campus look and feel like a prison, but a few gates around less popular areas does not equal an institutional police state. The problem is that if USF is going take measures that will give the campus a “police state” image, they might as well be effective.

Ensuring student safety goes beyond just re-routing traffic. Many institutions employ student ID checks in oft-frequented areas to limit the number of non-students and potential criminals wandering into the heart of the campus. Most of these systems require one employee, say, at the library, to ensure that those who enter are affiliated with the school or have a legitimate reason to be there.

If USF is concerned about the security of property on campus, it should stress the importance of locking cars and dorm rooms and hiding or securing valuables. After all, even with security officers monitoring, property theft can’t be completely prevented, so individuals must be responsible for their own belongings.

While trying to enhance campus safety is commendable, the University needs to enact comprehensive security measures, rather than portray a mere facade of safety.