President deems new security kiosks a preventative measure

Jenae McInnes, News Editor

The completion of the security kiosk checkpoints at both entrances to campus have raised concerns among students about their ability to access campus and questions about whether a checkpoint system is even necessary at a college like Westmont. The security kiosks — which have been under construction since the summer of 2021 — are finally fully operational. But the process has not been without its hiccups such as shipping delays and the recent software difficulties which President Gayle Beebe cited as prolonging their operation this semester. 

Beebe stressed that there are no new security issues that the college is responding to with the operation of the kiosks. He stated that Westmont has been in conversation with other colleges across the country who have similar systems, and Westmont is simply following suit. Beebe also pointed to the concerns of numerous parents in law enforcement who have expressed concern over the years. He did not, however, address the point that the Montecito hills and Santa Barbara generally are relatively safe places, in contrast to the locations of many other colleges. 

While Beebe stated that the kiosks are not a result of new security issues, he did refer to a recent instance of stolen Westmont property from campus. Beebe recalled,“that was really troubling, but it illustrated how easy it was to get on campus and not really be detained in any way.” 

Beebe further affirmed that the kiosks have been a goal for the college for a long time, saying, “There’s no new concern, it’s been a long concern for a number of years that we have just too porous of a campus. It was just too easy for just anyone to come on,” said Beebe. The recent push to install the checkpoints, however, was driven by the hired security during the COVID-19 pandemic in the 2020-2021 school year. “That is when we finally said we’ve got to just tidy up and get the kiosks in place … so that we can actually secure campus the way that almost every other campus is secure,” said Beebe. 

When the utilization of the kiosks was announced to students via email on Sept. 28, William Boyd, Chief of Campus Safety, wrote that food delivery drivers and non-Westmont student guests will not be able to get onto campus after 7 p.m. and before 7 a.m. when student I.D. is required; therefore, students will have to meet guests at the entrance.

This presented a foreseeable obstacle to students’ convenience and a concern that the traffic caused by drivers unable to access campus will overflow onto Cold Spring Road. Beebe expressed little concern over this issue: “We’ll have to figure it out because they’re not going to allow Uber to just drive anywhere [on campus]. That is part of what has to get resolved … it’s not a problem if the coordination is right.” However, he added that he is open to hearing student concerns about the issue. 

Additionally, Beebe acknowledged that the student I.D. requirement to access campus after hours could pose a problem in the event that students forgot their card. However, he said, “it’ll be a problem, although not a big one, if you forget your card. We’ll have workarounds to prove that you actually have access.” He did not specify what exactly these workarounds would be, but Boyd’s email clarified that if this happens students should call the Campus Safety number. 

William Boyd, Chief of Campus Security, was not able to be reached for comment. 

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