A new policy at the DiMenna-Nyselius Library took effect on April 16, 2019, requiring any individual entering the library to present their StagCard. The new policy comes shortly after a recent incident that took place in the library on February 26. Three female first-year students were frightened by “suspicious behavior from a male non-community member who appeared to be either filming or taking photos of them on the second floor of the library,” as stated by the director of Fairfield University’s Department of Public Safety Todd Pelazza in regard to the incident when it initially occurred.
“The policy has been in the works for some time,” said Brent Mai, Ph.D., dean of libraries in an email. “[It] was developed in consultation with the University’s Public Safety Office. The incident that you mentioned from earlier this semester can definitely be credited with hastening the timeline for its implementation, but we’ve been headed in this direction for quite some time.”
In action, the policy makes entering the library similar to entering the Leslie C. Quick Jr. Recreational Complex, where students, faculty and staff as well as non-community members must present a StagCard or otherwise identify themselves before being allowed inside the building. The new policy requires that students enter through the left doors leading into the library, where the front desk is. Like in the RecPlex, there is an employee stationed at the desk who takes each entrant’s StagCard and scans it in. Then the entrant is permitted to enter the main floor of the building.
“I did notice that the other day when I went,” said Colleen Vann ‘22. “Honestly it didn’t affect me every much. It wasn’t an inconvenience really, and it’s a safety precaution so I think it’s smart, especially if people had reported being uncomfortable.”
“The Library remains open to the general public as well, but it is prudent for public safety reasons in a building this size that we know who’s in the building at any given time,” said Mai.
Student responses have been varied. “I feel like because DPS is so present on campus and the campus is so small, I don’t see how this will make a difference,” said Noelle Brown ‘22. “Part of the reason I came here was that I thought that I would feel safe on campus everywhere, not just inside buildings like the library or the RecPlex.”
Brown stressed that buildings are not the only place where incidents like the aforementioned can take place. “We should keep track of who’s on campus in the first place rather than who is in the buildings. How do intruders even get on campus in the first place?”
In regards to how the new policy has been received so far, Mai reported that “students, faculty and staff are quite used to presenting their ID in other university buildings such as the RecPlex and the cafeteria. With few exceptions, the new policy has been well received by all Library users. In fact, several have commented that the small hassle of pulling out their ID is worth the increased feeling of safety that they have when using the spaces of the building.”
As for the need for increased security, Vann said, “I feel very safe at Fairfield, I’ve never thought of the security being poor, and I personally haven’t had any uncomfortable situations. However, I feel like any policy to increase security or ensure that students feel safe is a smart idea.”
“Unfortunately the world in which we live today requires that we consider issues of safety and security more often than we have in the past,” continued Mai. “This policy is intended to provide all library users with the security that they’ve come to expect in Fairfield University’s DiMenna-Nyselius Library.”