Recent break-in at campus apartments raises questions about security at Cal Poly Humboldt dorms – The Lumberjack

by Alina Ferguson

During the summer of 2022, a unit in the campus apartment complex was broken into. The police were able to locate and arrest the burglar. Auxiliary Operations Executive Director Stephen St. Onge said the units were unoccupied during the break-in and no students were injured.

“Unfortunately, when campus apartments aren’t occupied, they become a target,” St. Onge said.

Campus apartments were not originally part of the campus. According to Saint-Onge, the building was purchased to build infrastructure.

“The purchase of Campus Apartments was going to be for temporary housing,” St. Onge said. “Then the building was going to be demolished, and then a university building was going to be built there.”

Due to its origins, the building faces outwards, easily accessible from the walkway that leads to Arcata. There is no door and the bedroom doors are what people see first. These apartments do not use a key card to enter. Instead, they use a physical key issued to each student.

St. Onge mentioned that there is a fairly robust camera system installed in the complex, lined with over 400 cameras.

“We spent over $1.2 million on a very robust security system, every entrance to every apartment building is equipped with a camera,” St. Onge said. “If you go to Campus Apartments, I think it’s around 400 cameras.”

The campus surveillance system can track someone’s whereabouts across the campus.

“If I could pull up a camera, you could see how detailed these things are,” St. Onge said. “You’re wearing a gray sweater, aren’t you?” So we could type in the search parameters, female, brown hair, gray vest and they go- boop boop boop, and you put in a time parameter, and we could take you across campus.

Other campus accommodations have camera systems, and College Creek has a gate system. Accessing the College Creek dorm door requires going through a locked door first. Then there is an additional key to enter the actual apartment. The electric key system makes life in the apartments safer. If you lose or misplace your key, you can deactivate it, which means that even if someone retrieves it, it cannot be used to gain access to your apartment, unlike the physical keys used for campus apartments.

Since the campus apartments are scheduled to be demolished and replaced between 2028 and 2029, there are no plans to install new security features in the worn-out building. All security measures for campus apartments are reactionary security measures, while other dorms have preventive security measures.

Cal Poly Humboldt student Jared Van Der Loo lives at Campus Apartments with three other male students. He said the apartment gets hot and stuffy, and often they will have to leave the mosquito net and the door open, even at night. He said he thinks the addition of additional measures that other dorms on campus have could improve the safety of campus apartments.

“I feel a bit safe in the campus apartments,” Van Der Loo said. “With four guys, I think we can look out for each other. I also think the mold safety could be improved.

Another student, Ralph Valle, who lives on the third floor of Campus Apartments, said he felt personally safe, but as he knows there have been incidents at school he is very tired.

“In my mind, I was prepared for any weirdness,” Valle said. “Almost like a PTSD thing where I’m ready to jump if someone tries to come in while I’m inside.”

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