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UI implements new safety measures for its residents

Shelby DeHaven, ’Doah Staff Writer
March 26, 2013

Between a fire, thefts and vandalism, the University Inn has been an interesting place to live this school year. A few weeks ago, a hall meeting was held where residents stressed their desire to have cameras installed in the building, and for an overall increase in security. In response to this, the Security Technology Task Force was created, and the decision was made to screw shut the first floor windows.

The task force is chaired by John Stevens, the director of Auxiliary Services, and is composed of staff from Auxiliary Services, Residence Life, Physical Plant, the Department of Public Safety and Institutional Computing, along with two student representatives. Their first meeting was held over spring break.

Assistant Director of Resident Life Sherri Snyder-Greenaway explains, “The task force will discuss video cameras and building/room access, as well as looking into recent advances in technology and how we can improve our current system.”

Because of the U.I.’s proximity to Interstate 81, and the fact that the burglar over winter break entered through a window, it was decided that the best solution would be to screw the windows on the first floor closed. Many residents were shocked because they felt that this was a fire safety violation. However, both Greenaway and Winchester Fire Marshal Jeremy Luttrell assure that it is not. According to the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code, which references the 2009 edition of the International Fire Code, “One means of egress is permitted within and from individual dwelling units with a maximum occupant load of 20” when the dwelling is equipped throughout with an automatic sprinkler system. All S.U. dorm buildings fall into this category. Nonetheless, Luttrell still stresses the importance of fire safety education.

Despite the changes, some students are still not happy. Sophomore nursing major Stephanie Williams, who lives on the first floor of the U.I., feels that there have to be alternatives that will close off access to the windows and still allow her to open them, especially with warmer weather on the way.

Many other students are frustrated that it has taken so long for something to be done. On March 25, the fire alarm was tested with residents present for the first time since the fire in November. Kelly Scott was the last one out during the fire. Scott expressed frustration and disappointment that nothing has been done until now.

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