GPSC questions library security

By Gus Bode

Concerns raised by reports of late-night incidents on upper floors

Pullquote:”There’s always a problem with that. If you wanted to do something nefarious, you could.” – David Carlson, dean of Library Affairs discussing problems with indecent exposure at libaries

Factoid:GPSC will discuss the resolution at its next meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 in the Mississippi Room of the Student Center.

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Some bizarre stories stemming from the graveyard shift of Morris Library have compelled one campus constituency group to begin asking a series of questions.

After taking note of the sparse staff that operates the library during its late-night hours, the Graduate Professional Student Council will consider a resolution at its Oct.5 meeting criticizing the lack of supervision at the library after dark and resolving to further study the issue.

An alleged string of indecent exposures and people getting locked in on the building’s upper floors are something members of the group say needs to be investigated.

“This is something to be concerned about,” said Matt Borowicz, a GPSC member who first mentioned the issue. “GPSC feels this is an important issue, especially with grad students spending so much time in the library. It’s a student issue.”

The lively conversation that consumed the end of the group’s Sept. 21 meeting found members swapping stories about people who have been locked in the library’s upper floors after doors are locked at midnight and people who have been victims of indecent exposure on the same floors.

While these are isolated events, Borowicz said they open up the possibility for more serious incidents, such as sexual assault.

Incidents of indecent exposure are nothing new to the library. One student was seen masturbating in March 2000, and another student indecently exposed himself to another in April 2002.

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However, incidents of this sort, as well as people being locked into the building overnight, have become easier to find since the library changed its hours in fall 2002. That change, which ended all-night library hours, was the result of budget cuts to the University.

David Carlson, dean of Library Affairs, said a skimpy budget is the same reason the library does not have enough employees to closely monitor all of the building’s floors, particularly before closing time.

“It’s a staffing issue, number one,” Carlson said, adding that incidents of indecency have happened in every other library he has worked in. “There’s always a problem with that. If you wanted to do something nefarious, you could.”

While Carlson said such events are bound to happen, the library is interested in hearing about all of them and will try its best to deal with each situation.

He said that in addition to the warning bells that alert students to when the upper floors are about to be locked, two Saluki Patrol officers routinely sweep the building between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., when the first floor closes Sunday through Thursday nights.

Todd Sigler, SIUC director of Public Safety, would not confirm Carlson’s numbers but said the department does keep an eye on the library and also is interested in any complaints about possible incidents.

“We do have people assigned to the library on a periodic basis,” Sigler said. “They are good officers.”

While the incidents are not necessarily frequent, Borowicz said GPSC will examine the issue because it is something affecting the students and that people should not have to worry about danger lurking in the library’s upper floors.

John Ballestro, an acquisitions librarian at Morris, said the library is simply too big to be able to keep track of everything going on.

“There are a lot of nooks and crannies,” he said.”

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