The Kratz, Miller, Yoder resident directors announced on Wednesday, March 23, that the dormitories will no longer be locked 24/7, as they have been since the reported abduction and assault on Jan. 18. Starting today, Thursday, March 24, the doors will be unlocked from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., with opposite-sex visitation hours remaining from noon to 11 p.m. on weekdays and from noon to midnight on weekends.

After Elkhart County investigators found conflicting evidence last Monday, March 14, proving the reported January abduction and assault to be false, Student Life and students engaged in conversation to reevaluate the locked doors.

From a feedback session that occurred on March 17, Student Life gathered from student opinions that the majority of students would feel comfortable with a designated time frame of unlocked doors. Though some students remained hesitant of this proposal, Student Life decided to seek a middle-ground between the two voices. The new procedure is a result of this compromise.

“My hope is that those who want the doors unlocked will respond positively to the open door hours we’ve offered," said Jake Shipe, resident director of Yoder, "and for those who do not want the doors unlocked, that they can feel that Student Life heard their voices and responded accordingly after the [reported] assault.”

The 7 a.m. unlocking will accommodate the schedules of Physical Plant workers who will be in charge of unlocking the doors. In addition, the 9 p.m. locking will accommodate the night’s darkness, when potential assaults are statistically more likely to occur. These hours will provide a tighter security than the 11 p.m. to noon lock down that existed before the assault, and will allow students to engage in community on other floors.

“These changes will not impede community, as students will be able to flow from floor to floor,” said Shipe.

In the fall of 2011, a swipe-card system will be installed in the residence halls so that only students with identification cards can enter a hallway. Currently, two or three swipe-card companies are being analyzed for their cost and coverage.

Within the changed hours, Student Life encourages students to lock their doors when away and sleeping, to carry their keys with them, to utilize the campus security shuttles and to continue to maintain a raised awareness of people on campus.