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USM plans to expand card access to dorms, adds security officers

The University of Southern Mississippi has installed a card access system at its newest residence halls and plans to expand it to others to improve security on its Hattiesburg campus.

About 3,600 students use campus housing at USM.

The card system is one part of newly implemented measures at USM, which include added security personnel.

In the newest residence halls at The Village, a gated female student housing complex, USM installed an access system requiring students to swipe their identification cards in three different locations and utilize pin codes before entering their rooms.

The Village also features video surveillance at each gate entrance which can be accessed online so security personnel have the opportunity to view the camera feeds from anywhere.

Officials are planning to install card access at Hattiesburg and Mississippi Halls by the spring semester, but all new residence halls will be constructed with card access and video surveillance installed, said Chris Crenshaw, USM’s director of residence life.

Crenshaw said the card system means students no longer had to carry keys, and it also lowered costs because in the event of a security breach the school would not have to re-key or change locks.

USM has hired seven new security officers. They will keep an eye on dorms as well as man two security kiosks in the area of the residence halls, said USM police chief Bob Hopkins.

“Their main responsibility is after-hours security for the residence halls,” Hopkins said. “It’s always been the responsibility of the police department to do security for the residence halls after their staff closed down for the day.

“Up until this year, we had eight officers to cover 14 dorms. With addition of the Village and an enhanced student population on campus, we made the proposal to hire more personnel,” he said.