New lock system installed in Zetcher House elicits mixed reactions from students

and | Staff Writers

Student Opens Lock to their room using HomeBase System Lydia Nicholson | Student Life

Zetcher House became the first dorm on campus to install the Homebase lock system, which unlocks suite and room doors via an app instead of a key card. 

Some residents have cited frustrations with the app’s slow response time and are concerned about getting locked out of their dorms. The University is optimistic that they will be able to resolve these challenges and install these new locks in every dorm. 

Will Andrews, Director of Residential Student Housing at the University, mentioned accessibility and student feedback as primary reasons for trying the new locks.

“The new lock that we’ve been installing gives students greater flexibility in accessing their doors,” Andrews said. He also mentioned that the newer locks have a longer battery life than many other locks on campus.

The locks were first installed in the Lofts, apartment-style housing on the 6300 block of Delmar Boulevard, last year. 

“We saw great success having the locks installed at 6300 last year,” Andrews said. “The number of students reporting lockouts was very little.”

Despite this success, some students, like sophomore Alice Xu, have mentioned issues with the new system. Concerns about response time have been especially prevalent.

“The app usually takes about three to five seconds to respond,” Xu said. “It’s quite user-friendly; it works every time — it’s just too slow in my opinion.” 

Another sophomore, Tatyana Tolliver-Hughes, complained about the same issue.

“All of my suitemates start opening [the doors] from the elevator as it takes so long. I tried to open [the door] from the elevator and when I got there it’s still locked and I had to redo it,” Tolliver-Hughes said.

Andrews recognized the issue and deemed it as an inevitable hurdle to overcome at the beginning of the locks’ usage.

“We have seen some speed issues that we are aware of,” Andrews said. “We are working with our manufacturer to get those resolved so that students can see faster response time.”

In addition to delayed response time, some worry about potential security issues or how to unlock their doors if their phone becomes inaccessible to them.

“If I forget to bring my phone outside of my room, or if it’s running out of battery, the problem can be pretty complicated,” Xu said. 

To address this issue, Andrews mentioned that Housing Operations is considering adding charging stations in “community spaces.” Additionally, the application can function from any phone, so one can log in on another person’s phone if their phone’s battery is dead.

Despite some difficulties with response time and concern over accessibility, many students have expressed their approval of the new system. Junior Siobhan Davenport mentioned the cost of new keys as a detriment to the former system.

“I’m a huge fan of the new locks,” Davenport said. “I hated the kiosk system. I think they were trying to profit off our low moments when we forget our keys — and that is wrong,” Davenport added.

“I think it’s pretty convenient,”  Sophomore Daedalus Chen said on not having to go to a kiosk to get a new card after losing one.

Andrews made it clear that Housing Operations is taking concerns seriously and passing them along to Homebase. 

Moving forward, the University intends to expand the locks to off-campus housing at first but eventually put them in every dorm; however, delays in manufacturing and delivery have slowed down its progress.

“We are going to be working on a master plan of how we are going to onboard more of these locks,” Andrews said. “We’re gonna start changing them out as we get the locks.”

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