By Paul Mossine
Brian Brooks stirred up controversy with journalism students today when he sent out a mass e-mail decrying students staying late in buildings at the Missouri School of Journalism and propping open locked doors in the evening. His e-mail to the students is here:
We’ve had some serious security problems in the Journalism buildings recently. Two things you need to know:
1. Propping open exterior doors to the Journalism complex is illegal and can lead to charges being filed against you for illegal entry. When the building is locked, that means all facilities are closed.
2. It has been called to my attention that the custodians have found people sleeping and/or working in the building when they arrive in the early morning. This is prohibited when the exterior doors are locked. If you propped open an external door or entered through one propped open, that does not excuse the fact that you are in the building illegally.
Effective immediately, MU Police will begin patrolling the complex to ensure compliance.
Thanks for your help in protecting our facilities and equipment.
Some concerns students shared were:
- That many students work long hours, especially during finals week, and a police presence would add to stress.
- That students pay tuition to use facilities that would be closed off to them after-hours.
- That many assignments are time sensitive, and regulating access to technology would interfere with deadlines.
I talked to Brooks today, who seemed annoyed by the accusations that his actions were not reasonable. He said that any journalism student can obtain access to the facilities, and was irritated that professors were not passing along the information to students that would ensure their access. He said that any student could get their name on a list through their professor and could get their student ID card activated easily to avoid problems with police. He said t his concerns are for the safety of students, as many homeless people have been entering RJI after hours through propped open doors. He also made clear that the rules to be enforced by police have been in effect for the past two years.
Brooks outlined three doors that can be opened with a card around the journalism complex:
- Near the Neff Annex parking lot
- On the “circle drive” side of Gannett
- Between RJI and the old sociology building
UPDATE: Brooks sent out a follow-up e-mail close to 7 p.m. to clarify his earlier statements. He explained the process to obtain access to RJI, as we mentioned above and said that policing the buildings would probably not go into effect until summer session, although he can’t guarantee the retraction would make its way through MUPD before the weekend.
You can read his original e-mail to faculty and staff and the follow-up e-mail after the jump.
UPDATE #2: For those of you interested in participating in the “study-in,” it has been called off because its creator found Brooks’ second e-mail satisfactory.
Faculty and Staff,
This is a reminder that we need to keep the buildings secured and locked after hours. We have recently had HORRIBLE problems with homeless people living in our buildings, rancid meat being left around the buildings and similar problems.
There is a real safety issue here. I am not comfortable with students being here all night under such circumstances. Recently, custodians have found students sleeping in Smith Forum and in other places. Still others are working in labs at 4 a.m. That probably would not be so bad if street people were not also in the building.
I have sent students a note telling them that it is not acceptable to prop open exterior doors. That’s exactly how homeless people and others who have no business here enter the building in the first place. Still, it’s happening.
At the same time, I fully realize that students are coming to labs and working on final projects and the like. We can do two things to facilitate this:
1. We can give students in a class that needs access the ability to enter the building with card swipe. We will do this ONLY if you give us a list of the names and student numbers, and we will remove access at the end of finals week for those students. A student whose ID card opens the doors is obviously legit. If it doesn’t work, the MU Police have been asked to remove them.
2. We can extend the hours the exterior doors are open during the next two weeks. We are happy to do that if that helps. But the ONLY door we will leave open late is the one designated for that purpose between the Old Sociology Building and the new building. Once in that door, you can go anywhere. We DO NOT want to leave doors on Ninth Street open.
When I sent out the note, one student responded that the building was locked one night last week at 6 p.m. Yes, it was. But what nobody had told him is that CERTAIN doors are still open as long as the library is open. In particular, the exterior door on the outside of RJI between the old Sociology Building and the new building is open at all times the library is open. The student told me he propped open the Ninth Street entrance so his friends could come in. Wrong solution. Please let your students know which exterior door is open late.
What we CANNOT tolerate is allowing students to prop open external doors.
That simply is unacceptable. This opens us to great liability if someone were raped or otherwise harmed in our buildings. In particular, propping open a Ninth Street door just invites outsiders into the building after hours. If you see a door that is propped open, please correct the situation at night and on weekends.
Please communicate this to your students.