Former students discover residence hall security flaws

Several former students still have access to the residence halls they once lived in, an investigation by The Oswegonian has found.

At least two former Oswego State students were able to enter their old residence halls using their student ID cards despite having left Oswego State. On separate occasions, both Amanda Osborne and Corey Moriarty used their expired college IDs to gain access to Oneida and Riggs halls. Residents need to swipe their IDs on a scan pad to unlock residence hall doors; the system restricts admission to residence halls and is meant to guard the safety of students inside.

Moriarty said he thought his ID had been deactivated. He spent the fall 2009 semester in Johnson Hall before moving to Oneida Hall in the spring and ultimately transferring to SUNY Fredonia in spring 2010.

When he returned to visit friends months later, in October 2010, Moriarty went to Oneida Hall and swiped his ID on the scan pad. The light turned green and the door unlocked.

“I just wanted to see if it actually worked,” Moriarty said. “I was kind of surprised it worked. I’m not even on the system anymore.”

Amanda Osborne had a similar experience when she visited campus in January 2011. Osborne- a 2011 graduate of Oswego State- moved off campus after the fall 2010 semester. She had spent the three previous semesters working as a resident assistant in Riggs Hall.

When she visited friends in Riggs Hall during RA training that January, she discovered her ID still gave her access to the building.

“My ID just let me in… I tried it and it worked,” Osborne said. “We just assumed that anyone that didn’t live on campus or had graduated, that they weren’t concerned about it.”

Over the next few months, Osborne made a handful of trips back to Riggs Hall to visit friends. She soon realized her ID let her in the front and side doors of the building, as well as the basement kitchenette. In March, Osborne’s ID suddenly stopped unlocking doors in Riggs Hall.

“That shouldn’t happen. If that is happening we would certainly like to know so we could correct that,” said Rick Kolenda, director of Residence Life and Housing. “We don’t want our buildings to be insecure.”

Millennium, the ID card access system the college employs, dates back to the 1998 reopening of Hart Hall. Since that time, every residence hall on campus has been equipped with the high-tech security system. There were no major issues with the new system in 1998 or since, Kolenda said.

The ID scan pads replaced a complicated system of front door locks and keys which often had to be replaced when keys were lost or stolen.

With close to 4,400 students living on campus this academic year, the ID access system functions without problems as long as it’s maintained, Kolenda said.

“For the most part the system works well,” he said.

Kolenda suggested that some instances of former residents gaining access with old IDs might have been cases in which a door had not shut completely and wasn’t actually locked. However, he did not rule out the possibility of flaws in the system.

“Bringing that to our attention would be very helpful to us so that if there are issues… we can maintain the integrity of our buildings,” Kolenda said.

Similar issues involving access to residence halls were reported last year. In a November 2010 article in The Oswegonian, it was revealed that three former resident mentors in Johnson Hall, two of which had graduated from Oswego State, could still gain entry to Johnson Hall with their old college IDs. The three RMs no longer lived in the building and were not employed by Res. Life at the time.

Kolenda said he contacted one of the students specifically mentioned in the article, checked the logs created by Millennium and found the student had swiped his ID on the Johnson Hall scan pad on several occasions. However, the system rejected the student’s ID as invalid, Kolenda said.

“As far as we know, that student was not in the system,” Kolenda said. “That student did not gain entrance.”

Chris Nowak, the student mentioned by name in the 2010 article, graduated from Oswego State in spring 2010. He visited campus in October 2010 and discovered his ID still worked.

“I got in the front door of Johnson,” Nowak said. “I just wanted to try and see if it worked, and it did.”

Res. Life has yet to have anyone inform them of an ID access problem, Kolenda said.