Officials: Security Checkpoints Ensure Safety

Sean Lynch, Reporter

Students may have noticed a scene similar to a DUI checkpoint just inside the archway in early April: Campus Safety officers stopping vehicles for inspection.

The checkpoint wasn’t about finding drivers under the influence. It’s purpose was to check vehicle registrations, said Campus Safety Supervisor Ruth Anderika.

Anderika said ensuring a safe campus starts by knowing who’s on it. Without a vehicle registration, Anderika says officers have no idea whether a car belongs to a student, staff, faculty or visitor.

The 2015-2016 school year marked the first year students, staff and faculty could register their vehicles online. Anderika said figuring out the kinks of the new system was one of the driving factors for initiating the checkpoint.

“We had an incident where a girl thought that once she registered online, that was it. She had valid tags from previous years, but she thought that once she was in the system that was it,” Anderika said.

Anderika said officers did not give drivers of unregistered vehicles severe consequences. Officers simply asked drivers for proof of identification to show they had reason to be on campus. If the driver was visitor, officers directed them to the their location.

“It was something that we talked about for a while,” said Anderika. “This is the first year where we’ve had students and faculty register online. The one thing we always want the students and faculty to do is have a vehicle permit. Its important that we know who’s coming onto campus whether it be visitors or simply a student or faculty.”

The University dropped the registration fees from $60 to $20 to encourage members of the campus community to register. In addition, officials didn’t force anyone to pay right away. Vehicles  were given a permit and  labeled “payment pending.”

Anderika stressed the importance of vehicle registrations, not as a Campus Safety supervisor, but as parent.

“I’m a parent, and if I had a child going to school somewhere, I want to know that their vehicle is registered because if an unfortunate event happens where officers need information to look up, they’re going to check the code on the registration. If there’s no registration, we have no way of telling who that vehicle belongs to.”

One thing the checkpoint and registration enforcement did not address is limited parking.

Anderika doesn’t believe an influx of registered cars on campus is leading to a parking crunch, and she added that commuter students are welcome and needed on campus, and most of them must drive to school.

“It’s not just tough for the students. It’s tough for everyone, including myself. We certainly could use more options in terms of parking in the future, and I believe that will eventually happen. But until it does, we have to deal with what we’ve got.”

There is another, less convenient, form of parking, which is to leave vehicles at Passan Hall on lower campus and take the shuttle to upper campus.

Anderika said that to her surprise, there are many open parking spots at lower campus, but it seems as if students are reluctant to park there. She added that more  drivers are even trying to create their own spots on the end of lots.

Parking often tightens during the spring semester because many first year students bring vehicles to campus, Anderika said.

“We have prevented a good amount of first year students from getting parking passes,” said Anderika. “They have to go through all the stops to obtain a pass whether it be for employment, their parents can’t pick them up that weekend, or whatever the case may be.”

With only a month remaining before the spring semester comes to an end, Anderika said it’s not too late to register vehicles.