University to install fences around edge of North Side

| Senior News Editor

Above: the existing fence around Millbrook Apartments. Below: a rendering of a plan for a new fence to include a gate, accesible only with a University ID.Renderings of the proposed North Side gate, facing south at Millbrook 1 and 4.Courtesy of Washington University in St. Louis Facilities Planning & Management

Above: the existing fence around Millbrook Apartments. Below: a rendering of a plan for a new fence to include a gate, accesible only with a University ID.Renderings of the proposed North Side gate, facing south at Millbrook 1 and 4.

Washington University is planning to erect fences on the North Side residential area of campus over the coming year as part of an ongoing effort to improve security.

The project will involve placing three fences along the Village East and Millbrook dormitories, which will be connected to fences already in place on the northern border of campus.

The Department of Facilities Planning and Management plans to place four gates along the fences to maintain student access to the North Side. The fences will block access to residential areas on the north side of campus to people without key card access.

The construction will take place in two parts. In the first phase, the department of facilities will install the fences. This phase of construction will take place in early January.

In the second phase, the University will program the locks on the gates to only let in people with key-card access. This phase will likely take place over the summer.

WUPD Chief of Police Don Strom said there are several reasons the University is undertaking the construction project—principally, to enhance security.

“We’re right there at a major thoroughfare with access to our residential areas; we’ve done our best to enhance security [and] restrict access to those who live in those areas [but] there have been a few episodes of people who have wandered into the Millbrook apartments area,” he said. “It is important to direct people into open areas.”

He said the fences will help prevent future incidents from occurring.

“I believe it will enhance security for that area,” Strom said. “[Restricting] access to our residential areas is an important part of the safety model for our campus.”

He added that the fences will also deter students from crossing Forest Park Parkway in the middle of the street.

“There have been some real concerns historically with the foot traffic that is crossing Forest Park Parkway in that area; part of the concern is how could the fencing direct people towards the intersection and a more safe crossing,” Strom said. “It was particularly dangerous and we’re lucky somebody wasn’t hurt.”

Project manager Brian Newman said that aesthetics are a third reason for constructing the fences. With the new construction, the gates surrounding the Northern edge of campus will be uniform in appearance.

“This is the first part of our campus [people] see when they come in from the airport. We want to present an attractive face to visitors, and this is an easy way we can do that,” Newman said.

  • Anonymous

    Terrible idea, this fence. If this is done to stop people from crossing the street, there shouldn’t be a walkway to the divider on the far side, and a walkway from the campus side up to main campus. People are still going to cross there, and are responsible for their own safety if they do. If this is done for campus safety, it’s also bogus. Anyone can still access the North Side via Throop drive… this will just make them walk two minutes farther. Every incident has also taken place off campus – this fence simply reinforces the fact that WashU does everything it can to protect on-campus students living inside the bubble, but ignores everyone living off campus. Dozens of students get to campus by crossing Forest Park Pkwy at that point and heading up to campus – the only other option is a narrow bridge/overpass that is mobbed with people and bicycles on the hour, every hour. But instead of making it easier for those of us off-campus to get to classes, we’re being given more obstacles. I understand that they’re planning on rebuilding that overpass at some point in the distant future, but in the meantime I’d rather it be EASIER to get to campus from the north, not harder. How about a crosswalk? Or a traffic light? Or a bike path leading to and from Forest Park Pkwy (and perhaps a little sign reminding people to get off their bike and walk it across)? Or another blue light? A fence seems like the worst possible idea.

  • anon

    I am curious about the same questions others have brought up here – what will define this “key card access”? If it does not include every student – those with and not with ResLife – this plan is ridiculous. I live off campus and it is already frustrating enough I need to call any of my friends to let me into any building on the North Side… I lived with ResLife for two years and I am a full time student, I don’t see why being able to visit my friends should be difficult. Can’t there be a way for fulltime students to maintain some type of access?

    Furthermore, I don’t understand why campus safety needs to be radically improved on the North Side. Most of the issues facing student safety for the past three years (as long as I have been here) have regarded off campus locations. In fact, what makes me more nervous about this fence is if I am walking on the outside of it and feel threatened, it makes it that much HARDER for me to get inside the fence where there are more people around to ensure safety. Why can’t safety measures be taken in my neighborhood? I am not asking for a fence around my house, but other than the stint of police officers patrolling my block for a couple weeks earlier in the semester, nothing has been done to improve safety off campus.

    Frankly, improving the safety in off campus locations near campus will improve campus safety inherently. The more eyes we have on the street, people patrolling, blue lights, and cameras near WashU the more comfortable students and local residents will feel interacting with the campus and the surrounding areas.

  • Jerome Bauer

    Why stop with a fence and high tech gates? Let’s have a moat around the castle, to keep the serfs out.

  • Q.E.D.

    What kind of card access will these gates require? Res-Life card access that comes from living on campus or will it be open to all undergraduate students?

  • Russell

    What is meant by saying the gates will “only let in people with key-card access?” Will off-campus residents have this key-card access? Or only students under the res-life umbrella? Or only north-side residents?

    There was a planning meeting to discuss this a few weeks ago, at which representatives of the administration claimed that these plans were still very tentative and that further student input would be considered: what happened to that?

    It was also mentioned, if I remember correctly, that the MAIN reason for installing the fence was to prevent students from crossing the road illegally, in which case we all need to think more carefully and realize that (a) gates to which students have access will not prevent students from crossing the road, and (b) as soon as whoever had this idea realizes that students are still crossing, we’ll all lose our card access permanently. So I think the university’s promise of keycard access can’t really be taken seriously.

    I’ve done some (pretty unscientific) stopwatch experiments and found that using the [marginally safer] crosswalk adds 2-2.5 minutes to the walk from the village to the loop, the 560 (where I have class), etc, depending on the time of day. And seriously, we’re old enough to handle the responsibility. If we can’t successfully cross a street with a divider now, we aren’t going to last long after we graduate and WU isn’t there to fence off public roads for us.