University swipes away dorm room keys

Starting in summer 2017, students will no longer rely on room keys to get into their rooms, but instead they will be utilizing their FlashCards.

Jill Church, director of Residence Services, said there will be three main parts to the new lock system: FlashCards, keypads to be placed on the door of each room and a smartphone application.

“Students will be using their FlashCards as their key cards, but will also receive a pin to plug in to their door before they enter,” Church said. “The app will have bluetooth capabilities, where students can connect their bluetooth on their phone to the wireless system on the locks.”

Church said the updates are due to an outdated lock system in place across campus and department aspirations to increase security within residence halls. The current system in place requires students to have a Flashcard for meal plan and a separate key to enter rooms.

“Our current locks, some of them are about 15 years old, and I think the newest ones are about 12 years old,” Church said. “When we put those in at Kent State, we were on the cutting-edge as far as technology at the time, but here we are 15 years later and they don’t have a lot of life left.”

The Board of Trustees approved the measure during a Sept. 30 meeting, and the estimated cost to implement it will be $11.5 million.

Concerns arose at the meeting regarding safety for students when their FlashCards are misplaced and if others are able to access their rooms using lost cards.

Church said wireless access control systems with dual-access capabilities utilizing FlashCards and keypads with unique pins to access rooms will eliminate those concerns.

“If students lose their FlashCard, the pin can be used to gain access to the room, which only the student and nobody else should have,” Church said. “They can also just use the app if they happen to forget the pin.”

Dillon Coventry, sophomore aeronautics major, said he is excited to see the change it will have on students.

“It’s a struggle to often remember both cards,” Coventry said. “It will make life much simpler with just one.”

Currently, it costs students 25 dollars to replace a lost flashcard, according to the FlashCard Office. Church said adding room access to the cards will not increase the price and students will still pay the same amount to replace.

Church said implementing the system is a gradual process spanning the course of three years, with Residence Services incorporating the system in one of four area desks per year.

The New Front area desk will be the first to experience the change, including the halls Dunbar, Verder, Englemen and Prentice.

Residence Services plans to expand the system to all 25 residence halls on campus by Fall 2019.