RAs find themselves doubling as dorm security in recent trespassing incidents

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RAs find themselves doubling as dorm security in recent trespassing incidents

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by Kaitlyn Little, Staff Writer

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A man followed a group of girls into Zura Residence Halls earlier this month, marking the third trespassing incident into freshman housing at San Diego State this semester.

Around 12:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, after being asked for an ID by the front desk, the man begrudgingly left the building from one of the back exits that leads to a plaza inside the residence hall gates. He then continued to yell at staff from the plaza as the desk assistants called the university police.

Despite seeing the discourse between the man and the front desk, a group of residents let the man back into the building. The trespasser had been under watch earlier by university police for suspicious activity. Once the desk assistants called SDSUPD, the police were at the residence hall within two minutes. The trespasser was than taken to county jail for a parole violation.

This wouldn’t mark the first time an incident like this has occurred in campus residence halls. Earlier cases of unauthorized entries in the Tenochca and South Campus Plaza North residence halls led to the implementation of increased security measures in the buildings.

Director of Residential Education Kara Bauer said, despite the new measures in place, there is still the potential that a single student could upset the chain of security in place.

“Safety and security is a shared commitment between our team, our staff and the students,” Bauer said.

In the case of a security breach, university rules limit residence hall desk assistants from engaging with trespassers beyond asking for an ID. Bauer said resident advisors, or RAs, are prepared through training on a variety of topics emphasizing safety and security along with closed doors simulations. However, housing does put the worker as a priority even if they are considered the security in the freshmen housing.

“They will always be polite and try to confront but we also don’t want to them to put themselves in any kind of dangerous situation,” Bauer said. “So, again, if that’s not working from a customer service stance, just call the police, or if you feel in any way this will not go well if you confronted the situation.”

Social work senior Chelsea Guevara, who worked as a desk assistant the night the trespassing took place, said she feels limited in her ability to serve as an adequate force of security in the residence halls, despite the training she underwent.

“(Training is) more just a general ‘Hey, if you see something, say something’ type of thing,” Guevara said. “But, there’s not really much we can do as DAs and security monitors in terms of actually keeping the building safe. We can check IDs, we call the RAs on duty, but we can’t really stop people from coming into the building if they want to, which is unfortunate. But what’s nice is that (university police) is always doing rounds.”

Management junior Stephanie Schaffer, another desk assistant who worked during the trespassing, said she generally feels safe while working and that past improvements in security have increased her comfort in the buildings. Her main suggestion for increasing residence hall security would be enabling the front desk with a button for locking the entry doors.

Regarding the number of trespassings this semester, university police spokesperson Raquel Herriott said the issue is an inevitable symptom of living on an ever-growing campus.

“I think it’s one of those things that the more facilities we have on campus, the more likely that there could be a possible person not affiliated with SDSU wanting to get in and gain access and sometimes they’re not really sure what the buildings are,” Herriott said.

Overall, the Housing Department is trying to work alongside the students to promote a safe community.  Bauer said, in the previous housing incidents, students made the staff aware of their circumstances and the trespasses were quickly handled.

“Right now in our world, I don’t know if there is a safe place anywhere and so we are doing the absolute best that we believe we can do to help keep our students safe,” Bauer said.

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