Starting this year, there are no locks to the exterior doors of Brunswick Apartment buildings, a dramatic change from previous years when residents used a physical metal key to unlock the exterior doors and a swipe key to enter their suites.
The purpose of removing the exterior locks was to reduce the safety hazards students created by propping the outside doors open.
"It [the decision] was a false economy on safety," said Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon.
The decision to get rid of the key-lock system was made by students and various school offices, including the Treasurer's Office, the Office of Safety & Security, the Office of Residential Life, and the Dean of Student Affairs.
"When I first heard that that was what students wanted, it didn't make sense to me," said McMahon. "I really got worried about the other methods students used to get in."
According to Facilities Management, the lock sets for Brunswick Apartments cost the college $11,520 in total.
Without the locks, it is "much more convenient than having to carry a key around," said Haley MacKeil '10. Keys used to be issued at the beginning of the school year during check-in and were due at the end of year. Lost keys cost $50.
When the lock system was in place, students found alternative ways to keep the exterior doors open so that they would not have to carry the key around with them. Some groups of friends hid the key in the frame block outside the door. Some left their windows open so they could climb in. Others propped it open with various objects.
"My friends and I put acorns in the door so it wouldn't lock," said Katy Shaw '11, a former and current resident of Brunswick Apartments.
Keeping the doors unlocked in these ways not only posed a safety issue, but also allowed cold air to constantly enter the buildings, leading to the explosion of some radiators, according to McMahon.
"In theory, more locks are better, but reality is that the security system is constantly being defeated," said Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols.
"Last weekend, I had someone sell a magazine to me," said Shaw. "It made me more aware that anyone can come in."
"The benefit of the Bowdoin community being small is that you kind of know each other," said Brunswick Apartments Residential Assistant, Dana Riker '10. But if you see an unfamiliar person on campus, you are encouraged to report to security.
"Everyone's eyes and ears are critical to our overall safety," said Nichols.
McMahon and Nichols encourage Brunswick Apartment residents to be more vigilant in locking their suites at all times and not leaving them bricked.
"Since more people are locked out, swiping people in is more common this year," said Riker. She and five other RA's oversee approximately 250 residents this year.
Any student can also request to have peek holes placed on their doors "if it makes students feel safer," said Nichols.
Nichols said, "It's all about safety in the end."