Police, Allison residents discuss dorm safety

Michelle Ma

Two University Police officers Tuesday night warned Allison Hall residents to lock their doors and keep their belongings in a safe place. The meeting for second-floor residents was planned in response to recent reports of intruders in Allison.

About 30 second-floor residents came to the meeting about residence hall security, filling chairs and floor space in the lounge. Officers Danny Yu and Jose Aviles discussed “common sense” tactics to prevent intruders, including locking room doors at night and when out of the room, reporting anything suspicious and making sure outsiders don’t enter Allison without being signed in.

“You guys can’t get lax,” Aviles said, adding that “it only takes a couple of seconds” for an intruder to take valuables or harm a resident.

Early last Thursday an intruder entered two Allison second-floor rooms, and one student was approached while taking a shower, said Catherine Shen, an Allison community assistant and a Weinberg sophomore. No residents were harmed, and students who saw the man described him as a 6-foot-tall male, she said. Residents saw the man leave the second-floor hallway, and he probably escaped through the building’s front door because the security alarm didn’t go off, Shen said.

Residents received an e-mail alerting them to the recent incidents. Second-floor CAs Shen and Matthew Miller worked with Residential Life officials to set up the meeting where officers could discuss safety precautions and residents could ask questions.

“I hope (residents) aren’t shaken up,” Shen said. “I think the meeting went really far in letting people know the seriousness.”

Shen and the officers urged residents to call 911 immediately if they see someone suspicious in Allison or waiting to enter the building. Allison doesn’t have regular security monitors by the front door, which bothered some residents at last night’s meeting. Aviles told students to be careful when entering the front door, because intruders can dress like NU students and gain entry to the building.

Angie Sonderman said she worries about Allison’s security, both inside and out.

“I just think the security is much more lax than it should be,” said the Weinberg sophomore, who lives on second floor. “In my room I feel fine; we lock our doors now. I won’t take a shower at night anymore.”

Like Sonderman, other residents were concerned about safety in the Allison bathrooms. This year two students have been approached while in the shower, Shen said. But they weren’t harmed. In both instances the intruder entered the outer part of the shower, but left when the residents asked who was there, Shen said. Shower curtains are the only barrier between the shower and the bathroom, making showers easy for an intruder to enter.

Residents discussed shower safety ideas, including showering when lots of residents are in Allison and telling at least one “buddy” if they are taking a shower. Second-floor resident Shakira Carter said she thought each bathroom should be accessible only with the electronic keys that allow entrance to Allison. She said she isn’t worried about a room intrusion, though.

“It doesn’t make me nervous because my roommate and I are obsessive-compulsive about locking our door, anyway,” said Carter, a Communication sophomore.

Intruders have probably targeted Allison because it’s the closest residence hall to Evanston, Shen told her residents. The second floor is closest to Allison’s ground-level front door, making it the most convenient floor to enter, she added.

Allison and Public Affairs Residential College share a paging system, which is now implemented in other campus residential buildings. Between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. the on-duty CA carries a pager so residents can always reach a CA.

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]