Loyola’s Campus Safety installed new lockdown hardware across its campuses, placing it in classrooms and meeting rooms that students and staff were unable to lock from the inside before.
Installing the new technology was simply a means of evolving protection on campus, according to Loyola Campus Safety Command Sergeant Tim Cunningham.
“Campus Safety is always looking at ways to improve the security and safety of the campus and saw this as being another means of providing security,” Cunningham said.
The locks consist of two metal plates, one located on the bottom of the door and one installed on the floor beneath it. Next to the door is a clear, plastic box, containing a red handle used to jam the door.
To use the lock, the user removes the red handle from the box and slides it into the slots in the door and floor plates, barricading the door from inside the room. Users are then encouraged by Campus Safety to wait for further instruction from law enforcement.
A full set of instructions with pictures can be found on the Loyola Campus Safety website.
After tragedies like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — which left 26 people dead in 2012 — and other school shootings, colleges and universities around the country have invested in locks similar to Loyola’s new equipment. There are currently more than twenty different devices on the market, ranging from typical door barricades to metal bars that stretch across the width of the door.
Loyola’s new locks, manufactured by the security company Nightlock, retail for $59.95.
“The cost of the hardware was $30,000, plus $10,000 for their installation on the Lakeshore, Water Tower and Health Sciences campuses,” Cunningham said.
DePaul University, which installed similar locks on its campus in January, spent $35,195 on the project, according to The DePaulia, DePaul University’s student newspaper.
However, many security experts are concerned about the potential hazards that come with these types of locks, including the ability of an active shooter to lock victims inside a room themselves. States such as Arkansas, Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio have even updated their fire and building codes in order to legally install the locks, often against the wishes of fire and building officials.
Instead, various safety professionals and organizations recommend installing locks that lock both from the inside and the outside with a key or barricading the doors with desks and furniture in the case of an intruder.
During the installation, many within the Loyola community voiced their own worries about the locks.
“The Loyola community raised concern regarding Campus Safety’s ability to access the room from the outside during an emergency if the lock is in place,” Cunningham said. “The locks come with a tool that is carried by Campus Safety that allows us to essentially remove the device and gain access to the room if needed to.”
Thomas George, 25, a senior history and political science major, said he already feels relatively safe on campus due to Campus Safety’s presence.
“You see police officers pretty much roaming regularly and present in common spaces,” George said.
Unlike George, Mary Tran, 18, a first-year biology major, is worried how Campus Safety would respond in a real emergency such as an active shooter situation.
“I don’t see very many people around that might be able to contain the situation if that were to happen,” Tran said. “Safety is kind of an abstract term because I haven’t seen very many people around carry the title of security.”
Tran wasn’t aware of the new technology until talking to The Phoenix but said that it makes her feel safer.
Though the locks were installed this summer, not all staff or students are aware of the new technology.
Franklin Jakubow, 18, a first-year environmental engineering major, was surprised it wasn’t a topic brought up during the Campus Safety presentation at orientation.
“It is very concerning,” Jakubow said. “There should be awareness [of the locks] so that people know how to use it in an emergency situation.”
Campus Safety sent an informational email about the new locks to the Loyola community Sept. 12.
“These devices augment the safeguards Campus Safety already has in place and further fortify the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors,” Thomas Murray, director of Campus Safety, wrote in the email.
Besides the new locks, Cunningham also encourages students and staff to use Loyola Alert, a university-wide emergency messaging system that sends out vital updates, in the event of any life threatening, on-campus emergency, such as an active shooter.
“The university recognizes the need of staying in front of potential security concerns,” Cunningham said.