Local CBS affiliate revisits security holes

By Matthew Stone

Maybe it was just a slow news day. Or, maybe, it was a genuine attempt to spark awareness of lapses in dorm security on college campuses.Either way, WCCO-TV, the local CBS affiliate, rehashed old memories Saturday when it re-aired a four-year-old investigative team expos that, the television station said, showed just how lax dorm security was on four local college campuses. It was prudent to raise the question again at the beginning of a new school year, the anchor said in his preface to the re-airing.

A WCCO spokesperson did not return a call on Wednesday requesting comment on the reasoning behind the re-broadcast.

Macalester was among the mix of campuses selected for the investigation, which also surveyed dorm security at St. Thomas, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wisconsin in River Falls. The station originally aired the segment in the fall of 2003, following a spring in which a prospective student spending the night in a Macalester dorm was sexually assaulted.
The reporter found that almost no effort was required for his undercover cameraman to gain entry to dorms on each of the four campuses.

The cameraman attempted to sneak into the four campus’ dorms on three separate occasions and his attempts were met with resistance only once, at a St. Thomas dorm.

At Macalester, the undercover video footage shows apathetic Macalester students allowing the WCCO intruder, who states clearly that he is not a dorm resident, to “tailgate” them into Dupre and Wallace Halls.

The segment also features the reporter springing the undercover footage on Laurie Hamre, Vice President for Student Affairs, who responds that Macalester’s administration will take the report’s findings to heart.

A follow-up report, aired a year later in Nov. 2004, found that Macalester had installed security screens on residence hall windows, but concluded that, despite administrative changes, dorm security ultimately depends on the student residents.