Updated: To correct error. The four shot last Halloween were not USC students.
Security became far tighter, and way more paranoid, this week at the University of Southern California located a few blocks west of gang-riddled South Central Los Angeles, and some people might find the new lock-down rules a bit hard to take.
A new rule instituted on Monday, Jan. 14 forces students to "register" their friends who want to get on campus to see them for any late-night reason -- "late night" being, ahem, after 9 pm. How will this work? Students throw impromptu parties, sex breaks and the usual stuff done by 19-year-olds. And you have to "register" any pals arriving up until about dawn, 6 a.m. Security might get in your personal business -- if you don't "register" your pals, they aren't getting past eight guarded gates.
Ten other gates leading onto campus will now be locked for good each night.
We hear it makes a late-night munchies run quite a hassle, too. An outpouring of mixed emotions from students has hit social media sites and the blogosphere.
Students wonder if the new rules are for safety, or to smother them--like the over-protective mother some of these students were happy to leave at home.
"Soon they will be asking for blood and urine samples at the gate," student Javier Gonzalez told L.A. Weekly, "This is the beginning of a police state. It's going to take forever to get in and out of the gates at night. Cars pile up fast."
The new security measures were created to protect students after last summer's killing just off-campus of two Chinese grad students, which became a global news story, followed last Halloween by an on-campus shooting that injured four students.
But something seems a bit mismatched here.
In the Halloween incident, suspect Brandon Spencer, a security guard invited to an on-campus party, wounded four young people outside the "Freak or Greek" ballroom costume event and has pleaded not guilty to four counts of attempted murder. Spencer is being held on $2.4 million in bail.
The locked gates would not have kept him off campus since he was invited, right?
Then there were the horrific murders, apparently to steal a swank BMW, of Wu Ying and Qu Ming on a neighboring street of USC (a mile away). The motive for the shootings is under investigation.
Again, locked gates -- no help!
USC officials insist the new security rules were created to help protect (not annoy) students.
But do the other new rules make more sense than locking 10 gates and registering your friends to get through the remaining eight gates after 9 p.m.?
Well, one intense new security measure instituted the first week of November
on January 2 includes fingerprint- scanning at the entry to each dormitory. Every time any student enters their own dorm building.
Another rule requires guests of residents to leave a valid ID card with building officials to obtain a temporary guest pass into the dorms, just like many other apartment buildings in the surrounding area.
USC officials insist this will reduce the amount of in-dorm thefts from students. On this point, USC officials say they have hard evidence thefts are being reduced thanks to the fingerprint ID rule.
Captain David Carlisle of the USC Department of Public Safety tells the L.A. Weekly, "Students may also notice an increase in the number of public safety officers on campus as well as along the campus perimeter; and the addition of Security Ambassadors stationed strategically on campus to provide an additional layer of highly visible security. Less visible will be a number of additional security cameras planned for installation on campus in the future."
It seems pretty clear that somebody has not thought this out properly. On the one hand, fingerprint IDs seem to be reducing theft. But under their latest new rule -- closing 10 of 18 gates -- USC is forcing some students who might get dropped off near a closed gate by their friends, or who rely on buses or light rail, to walk to USC entrances they don't normally use.
In the dark.
The convenience factor has been shot to hell, and are these students any safer?
"In perspective to the rest of the city, USC comes across as being pretty damn safe," says student Eric Moore, who attends Annenberg School of Journalism.
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Moore, a member of the East Hollywood Neighborhood Council who closely follows many government issues, adds: "USC does have a history of being an oasis of safety, amidst a city struggling with an underfunded and understaffed LAPD and other underfunded offices which would deal with blight and safety."
Students claim that if they forget something in their dorm, it can take them 10 minutes to get back into their rooms -- not including the time it takes to hoof it to class.
Now, all USC really needs to be totally secure is a moat and a drawbridge.
For further reading please see - USC Murder: Chinese Graduate Students May Have Been Shot, Killed for Their BMW