After-hours activity prompts improved security for Newton Hall

Posters with “STOP” on the doors to the main entrance of Newton Hall warn students, faculty and staff about increased after-hours security at Newton Hall and the Integrated Science Center.

The signs, posted on Feb. 3, are part of a recent effort by University Police, Facilities Services and Vice President for Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio in order to prevent people from entering the buildings illegally after they close at 11 p.m. each night, according to Assistant Chief of University Police Scott Kenney.

University Police is increasing surveillance of Newton Hall and the ISC in response to damage caused by unauthorized entry and will take action against offenders.

According to the signs, “unauthorized afterhours access [to campus buildings] may result in arrest and/or a Campus Code of Conduct review.” Police officers do regular walkthroughs of campus and academic buildings in order to prevent students from trespassing.

Due to inclement weather and the proximity of Newton Hall and the ISC to Main Street, the buildings have become a popular place for students, and potentially local residents, to take shelter from the cold at night. Police officers or facilities staff are responsible for locking the doors to each building after closing.

Unauthorized access to the buildings has resulted in damage and potentially harmful activities including stolen and deployed fire extinguishers and carbon dioxide gas released in science classrooms, which could result in explosions.

While science departments may give students card access to the ISC for late night academic purposes, the locks for the doors to both Newton Hall on and the ISC have been particularly sensitive to break-ins for years. Efforts to fix the doors have repeatedly failed.

“People found out pretty early that they could pull hard on the doors and gain entrance,” Kenney said.

Facilities Services installed new, stronger locks on the doors of both buildings, the chief measure of the increased security plan.

“They took more steps to really do a long-term fix on the doors outside of replacing them, which is hugely expensive,” Kenney said. “They’ve really put some time and materials into getting a good fix this time that hopefully will last.”

The signs are an effort to communicate these changes to students without surprising anyone with the increased security.

“We don’t want to go from no enforcement to over the top enforcement,” Kenney said. “We’re trying to enforce a kind of culture change without going into full-blown arrest mode.”