NU students express concern over increased security measures


Isabel Stephens

These kind of locking mechanisms are being added to more doors around campus.

Deanna Schwartz, campus editor

For some, it’s an annoyance. For others, it’s a choice that discriminates against homeless Bostonians and closes Northeastern off from the community. 

On Oct. 9, students received an email announcing the university would be increasing security efforts by making more on-campus areas accessible by ID only. Previously, only certain spaces on campus required a Husky ID to access, including residence halls and select offices and studio spaces. The email did not specify which on-campus locations would be getting the new locks. 

“For some sites, access levels are set according to user credentials for that specific area.  For other sites, such as restrooms, all active Northeastern community members will have 24/7 access via their NU identification card,” the email said.  

The announcement that Northeastern was increasing security on campus invoked different reactions from students. For many, what stood out to them was the mention of restrooms now requiring an ID to access. 

Colin Groh, a third-year cybersecurity and business administration combined major, said his first thought was confusion. He said he had to read the email three times to understand it. “They hid the actual change in a paragraph of jargon and politics-speak,” he said.

Kate Parks, a fourth-year marine biology major, said they thought it was a joke at first. “It seemed like a meme,” they said. Parks posted about the email in the NU Meme Collective Facebook group, getting over 80 comments and almost 100 reactions. 

According to Renata Nyul, a university spokesperson, only bathrooms in International Village will be impacted immediately. It is unclear how many and which bathrooms will be getting the increased security measures in the future. 

Arjun Sharma, a third-year business administration major, said he is disappointed in Northeastern but not surprised and that he finds the rule to be an annoyance. “What if I’m in a rush and I really have to go and I forgot my Husky card? I’m basically screwed,” he said. 

Parks said they believe these measures will discriminate against those who are homeless, specifically homeless NU students. “There are a lot of students who go here who are homeless and they need these spaces,” they said.

Sharma said he does not see homeless people using the bathrooms as an issue.  “I doubt a homeless person that would come into a Northeastern bathroom would vandalize a bathroom,” he said. “A bathroom is there to be used.”

Sharma also said the idea of having locked bathrooms reminds him of pay toilets in Europe. “What happens there is … [homeless] people start peeing on the streets,” he said.  

Parks said they are also concerned by the idea of restricting access to certain academic spaces. 

“If I’m paying tuition, I should be able to get into any building I want,” they said. “I hang out in ISEC a lot … the idea that I wouldn’t have access to the kitchens in there because I’m not in engineering is really weird to me.” 

Nyul said in an Oct. 10 email to The News that the new security measures are “in the interest of enhancing the safety and security on campus.” In July, a Northeastern student was sexually assaulted in an academic building open to public access. These new security measures could be a move to prevent further incidents like this from happening. 

Parks said they believe the focus on this specific incident detracts from a larger related problem: students being assaulted by other students. 

“They don’t do enough to prevent or protect students from being assaulted by other students. It feels like this is a way to direct attention away from the fact that they don’t treat survivors very well and they don’t take action against students who are doing this stuff,” they said.

Groh said he understands the need for further security, but thinks locking bathrooms is not the solution and the new measures are not “fair, safe or effective for anyone.” 

“I would prefer that our campus isn’t one where you find homeless people doing drugs in the bathroom,” he said. “But I don’t think the solution is closing off the bathrooms. It’s not actually resolving the problem, just pushing them to a different bathroom on campus, which doesn’t help anybody.”

Parks agreed that more safety is not necessarily a bad thing, but that Northeastern is taking the wrong angle.

“I understand the safety concerns, but it also seems like a non-issue for me,” they said. “And considering the amount of gentrification [Northeastern has] been doing all over Boston, the least they can do is let people into bathrooms.”