GHC opening helps students but had poor execution

Students who spend time in the Gates Hillman Complex may remember the controversy last year over evening and weekend access to the building’s upper floors. After an initial period of access following the complex’s construction, undergraduate computer science majors discovered last October that their ID cards no longer opened the electronic locks on Gates Hillman’s sixth through ninth floors after hours. In the trade-off of greater freedom and use of the building’s many inviting work spaces versus greater security for graduate student and faculty territory (and their coveted coffee machines), the School of Computer Science had quietly sided with the latter.

This month, however, SCS seemed to change its mind. A Sept. 2 e-mail from Assistant Dean Mark Stehlik announced to undergraduate computer science students that their IDs now allow them 24-hour access to all of the Gates Hillman Complex “on a trial basis to see how things go.” Ultimately, this is the right decision. Although SCS graduate students may complain about the pesky populace filling their corridors and lounges, a building as prominent as Gates Hillman should not be reserved for the enjoyment of a few — especially since the building’s design makes little distinction between private offices and public working spaces. Further, it only makes sense to allow undergrads free access to their professors and TAs, many of whom work behind the previously locked doors. If all Gates Hillman users act reasonably in their resource consumption and cleanliness, the trial period will be a success.

We are, however, annoyed by the further lapse in communication surrounding the change in policy. Last year, undergraduates were not notified when they were suddenly locked out. This year, graduate students had no warning that their offices and hallways were no longer quite as secure as they had been. No matter which way the access policy is written, ignoring half of its stakeholders is certainly not the best way to promote understanding and acceptance. In what is becoming the mantra of this young school year, we again have to remind those making decisions at the university to — please — let us know.