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UMass To Spend $2M To Improve Security In Amherst Residence Halls

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WAMC
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Officials at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have released an independent report on residence hall security.  The review was commissioned following an alleged gang rape in a residence hall last year.

UMass will spend an estimated $2 million over the next three years to improve security in the residence halls on the flagship campus as recommended by the 214-page report.  UMass Amherst Police Chief John Horvath said there will be new guest registration procedures, changes to the physical layout of residence halls, fixes to problems with doors, alarms and access cards.

The study conducted by Business Protection Specialists of Canandaigua, N.Y. made 87 recommendations.  Some immediate changes were made before students arrived back on campus this fall.

The report was commissioned following the alleged October 2012 rape of a student in the victim’s residence hall. The four men charged in the case were not UMass students. Authorities said three of the four had been logged in as visitors by a student who was not the alleged victim.

One major change will be to implement an automated system—replacing a paper sign-in sheet—to keep better track of visitors to the 51 residence halls on the campus.

The report lauded the overall state of security on the campus noting the practice of keeping residence halls locked continuously, replacing keys with an all electronic access system, security-staffing on a part-time basis in the residence halls, and the installation of more than 1,000 surveillance cameras on campus including 389 in the residence halls.

UMass Amherst Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Enku Gelaye said officials will act carefully to implement the recommendations that will impact 13,000 students living on the campus.

The recommendations include banning alcohol in all residence halls that house freshmen and students under the age of 21.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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