University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Safe U.

Building Access Program—Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Building Access Program?
The program aims to increase Twin Cities campus security by reducing the number of hours that campus buildings are open to the general public while ensuring that current students, faculty, and staff have access to facilities when they need it. To achieve this goal, exterior entrances will be classified as card-controlled, automated lock/unlock, or exit-only. This will eventually eliminate exterior door keys for entrances and allow the U community to have card access during nonpublic hours when buildings are locked.

When will all of the buildings on the Twin Cities campus be changed?
Our goal is to complete this project by August 2014. It involves changes to 93 buildings and many more doors.

When will these changes begin?
A pilot program began on Feb. 3 on the West Bank. Pilot buildings include Andersen Library, Anderson Hall, Barker Center for Dance, Carlson School of Management, Hanson Hall, Mondale Hall, and Regis Center for Art. Hours will be posted at building entrances. Generally, hours will be 6-7 a.m. and 5-10 p.m. (or 7-10 p.m.) on weekdays. On weekends, hours will vary. The remaining buildings on the West Bank will be changed in the middle of spring semester, and the rest of the Twin Cities campus will be changed this summer.

How did you determine hours for buildings?
A work group representing a cross-section of campus constituencies looked at hours that would encompass most of the University’s business day. For example, in buildings that are primarily administrative there is little need to be open to the public after 5 p.m.

For buildings with classrooms, the bulk of students arriving for night classes will have done so by 7 p.m.

In libraries, galleries, or performance buildings, hours were determined based on when those buildings needed to be open to the general public.

In all buildings, during the remaining hours that were previously “open” students, faculty, and staff will be able to enter using their UCard. After hours access will be authorized individually, as it is today, by each building’s security coordinator.

How are the doors going to be different?
Every building will have at least two doors that can be accessed using a UCard. Some buildings will have other doors that are open during University business hours. And other doors will be designated “exit only” and never be unlocked for exterior access.

Will this impact me?
You will be impacted only if you need to access a building during nonpublic hours (i.e., before 7 a.m. and after 5 p.m. for most buildings). You may find you need to enter and exit through a different door than the one you now use.

How will I know if my access to campus is being reduced and where?
No current student, faculty, or staff will have reduced access to campus. Hours for students, faculty, and staff are not being reduced, just the method of gaining access.

What happens if I forget my UCard? Will I still be able to get in?
If it is after public hours, you will need your UCard to enter a building. Carrying your UCard with you at all times is a good practice.

This seems kind of inconvenient. Is it worth it?
Our goal is to balance safety and access. This is why the public hours are long. We will get input from building users, and review building use and the volume of “swipes” to determine if changes are needed to building hours.

What about securing access to the tunnels?
Tunnels and skyways will be part of Phase II of the program, which is anticipated to be in fall 2014.

Won’t it still be possible for criminals to get into our buildings?
Balancing security and access as a public institution requires trade-offs. During University hours, building security will depend on each of us to ensure doors lock behind us and that no one has followed us in without proper ID. Once this program is fully operational, the University can quickly and uniformly lock buildings and can quickly change public hours as needed to ensure security.

How much will this cost?
Converting all buildings to automation has long been in the works, however at a much slower pace (only a handful of buildings per year). We are in the process of designing and bidding out the work needed to convert all buildings. The work is being funded by reallocating Facilities Management repair and replacement funds and is expected to cost several million dollars.

How will we know if these changes are making campus safer?

One of the challenges of safety is that you may never know what problems you’ve avoided. In the absence of specific examples of problems avoided, the next best indicator is whether individuals report that they feel safer. We will also know from our security monitors and the University of Minnesota Police Department whether they have fewer incidents of behavior in campus buildings that require their intervention.