Security and Privacy in Residence Halls

At Private, Mid-Sized, Urban Institutions

Topics: Residence Life, Student Experience, Student Affairs, Facilities and Operations, Administration and Finance

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Residence life directors and other student affairs professionals prioritize student safety as a chief concern. However, administrators want to maintain this safety while mitigating and concerns over privacy. This brief examines the balance between security and privacy with residence hall safety policies and technologies, residence life staff relations with campus safety, and student privacy assessments.

  • Key observations from our research:

    1. Campus safety officers at most profiled institutions freely enter residence halls in response to incident reports or on regular patrols; however, residence life staff or student workers almost always accompany officers while inside residence halls and student rooms.

    2. Administrators at profiled institutions employ a combination of a card swipe access system, front desk assistants, and guest passes to enforce overnight guest and visitor policies.

    3. Campus safety officers at most profiled institutions administer 24/7 video surveillance at all residence hall entryways.

    4. Contacts at profiled institutions benefit from a combined organizational and incident reporting structure that aligns campus safety and residence life under student life or student services.

    5. Directors of residence life at all institutions typically do not collect formal assessments of students’ perceptions of privacy; instead, they prioritize formal assessments of students’ perceptions of safety in residence halls.