When students at the Eastman School of Music returned from fall break this week, they were greeted with locked doors that had always been open in the past.
Rather than being upset, students are rejoicing. The new system is part of an effort to improve security at the school, and to keep outsiders from two key locations in the school – the Annex and the Internet Cafe.
Over the summer, the school installed ID card readers at the three entrances to the Annex and the two entrances to the Internet Cafe. Doors were locked and the card readers went into effect Monday.
The goal of these new measures is to minimize theft in the Annex and to keep non-Eastman persons from using the computer facilities in the Internet Cafe, according to an e-mail sent to the Eastman community last week.
“Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a trend of people off the street coming into the Annex through the main building,” Director of Facilities at Eastman Lou Wiesner said. “It’s an isolated building, and we want to make it as safe a place as possible for the students.”
“I definitely think it’s a good thing,” junior Joel Klenke said. His clarinet was stolen from a practice room in the Annex in February 2001.
Theft has been a common problem in the Annex, since people often leave valuable items – ranging from metronomes to wallets to expensive instruments – unattended in practice rooms.
“A lot of people have had stuff stolen in the Annex,” Klenke said.
He suggests that, even with the new ID card readers in place, “the best thing to do is to keep an eye on your stuff.”
The Internet Cafe has several Macintosh computers available – with no username or password needed to access them – designed to allow students to check their e-mail or read the news online, for example, although no word processing or printing facilities are available. Vending machines and a copier are also located in the Cafe.
Known to students as “the Cave” – a reference to Mendelssohn’s “Fingle’s Cave” – the Cafe has an entirely different set of problems to deal with than the Annex does.
Most importantly, people not affiliated with Eastman have often used the computers in the Cafe for hours at a time, sometimes causing the computers to crash, and then leaving them in that state.
Sophomore J. Gregg Miller noticed a problem in the Internet Cafe when he was working at Eastman this summer as an resident adviser.
“Over the summer, we were getting some pretty sketchy people [in the Cave],” Miller said. When asked how often he noticed this, he responded, “Every time I went down there.”
“The computers [in the Internet Cafe] are bought with money from the students’ tuition, and we want to make sure that the students are the ones using them,” Wiesner said.
The locked door to the front of the Internet Cafe was placed a few feet inwards, so that a UR ID is not needed to access the Backstage Cafe, the only place to purchase food inside either Eastman’s main building or in the Annex – although delis and coffeeshops are located close to Eastman.
Adding new security at Eastman is always a tough decision for administration. On the one hand, Eastman is a cultural institution that has long prided itself on its accessibility to the people of Rochester. On the other hand, Eastman is located in the downtown area of a major city and, unfortunately, is subject to the kinds of problems that come along with such a location.
When adding new security measures at the school, the administration often must weigh the safety of the students against maintaining community access. But due to the increase in incidents over the past few years, the administration decided that it was time to take more security precautions, especially in the Annex and Internet Cafe.
“We’re committed to making the school as safe a place as possible,” Wiesner said.
Grabowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.