From difficulty registering guests to unwanted persons obtaining access to campus, complaints about the DeFord Gatehouse are prevalent among students at Virginia Wesleyan.
“Security’s doing their job,” said freshman Anthony Wiggins, “But they need to do it better.”
Students’ problems with security begins with difficulties registering friends to be permitted on campus.
“My friend rode his motorcycle here in the fall, so it was cold,” said sophomore Courtney Jones. “I registered him before he came, but they wouldn’t let him on because he was on a motorcycle. I had had trouble before with other friends, so I told him to park at the hotel. We picked him up and I reregistered him before we came back. When we got to the gate, security gave us a hard time and told us they expected us to honk when we dropped him off and wave when we came back so they would know he had left before midnight.”
Other students have had similar problems. Junior Megan Bell-Hill brought a friend on campus who was a former student of Virginia Wesleyan.
“We had gone off campus to get food and Officer Britt asked who she was registered under,” said Bell-Hill. “I said I would register her and he said I would have to call off campus, so I had to drive off of campus to call and register her and then go back through the gate.”
The second main issue students have is how porous security is.
“I think they need improvement,” said Wiggins. “It’s really easy to get on campus.”
This can apply to people who should be allowed on campus, like parents, and to people who should not be permitted.
“My parents will try to get on and security won’t even check them,” said junior Lauren Davis.
Last year a serious problem arose after an elderly man somehow gained access to the campus and harassed a student on campus.
“He called her the N-word and asked what she was doing on campus,” said Bell-Hill who was friends with the former student. “He said he would kill her and that she didn’t deserve to be here. He told her to get off the sidewalk.”
Despite the criticism, security does work hard to try to ensure the safety of students.
“Guests must be registered and should be called in to the front gate prior to arrival,” said Director of Security Jerry Mance, concerning problems with registering guests. “If driving, they should be prepared to show proper identification to obtain entry.” This is supposed to apply to family members, like parents, as well as friends.
There are ways to try to ensure fewer problems registering guests on campus.
“Everybody registers everybody in the afternoon,” said a security officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The easiest thing to do is register earlier.”
Security’s perspective on outsiders coming onto campus without notifying them is that they’re doing the best they can.
“We make every effort to minimize outsiders from gaining entry to the campus and when they do it’s usually from the ball fields,” said Mance. “Patrols are constant and we have, myself included stopped people from coming across the fields and turned them away. A strong presence of security along with the police we partner with helps greatly with keeping outsiders outside.”
“There’s little we can do other than locking down the campus like a military institute,” said the anonymous security guard. “There’s one gate with a guard there at all times. Short of putting up fences and barbed wire, what are you gonna do?”
These two particular issues, difficulty and ease in gaining access to campus, are starkly different from one another, proving it’s a fine line between providing sufficient security while not infringing upon the personal freedoms of students. For this reason, students are frequently going back and forth between whether they believe security should be increased or decreased, but many have come to a similar conclusion.
“Security is strict enough, but they need to become more reliable,” said Jones. “If they become more reliable we won’t have so many issues with students trying to sneak guests on.”