As fall begins, tailgating is on a lot of people’s minds — but for the Georgia Tech Department of Housing, there are no snacks, chairs or lawn games involved.
The department's biggest concern going into the new school year is the kind of tailgating that allows those who aren’t members of the Tech community to follow residents into dorms.
“Because most of us were raised to hold the door open for the person behind us, instinct takes over,” Dan Morrison, director of Residence Life, said in a release. “However, we hope to educate students that this behavior actually makes everyone in a residential community vulnerable.”
At the same time, Housing staff and the Georgia Tech Police Department recognize that students may feel they’re being rude, or may find themselves in the uncomfortable position of closing a door in someone’s face. So, GTPD encourages students to call police at 404-894-2500 to investigate the situation if they have been followed into a residence hall by someone suspicious.
“We realize you may not be able to keep someone from coming in behind you all the time, and students may not feel comfortable confronting people,” said Deputy Chief of Police Robert Connolly in the release. “Just call us, and we’ll look into it. We’d rather have the call and it turn out to be nothing than have students say nothing.”
Tailgating led to an incident in North Avenue Apartments in July, when two armed suspects tailgated into the building behind a resident and entered a room on the seventh floor, stealing a resident’s cell phone, laptop and wallet.
Though most who tailgate are legitimate residents who just don’t want to get out their BuzzCards, Housing has caught intruders who have dressed to look like students, with backpacks and baseball caps, to gain access to residence halls. Students can help each other by always having their card out for entry, showing fellow residents that they are neighbors, not a potential threat.
In an additional move to help prevent tailgating, Housing has turned off the automatic doors many are accustomed to around campus. Previously, many doors stayed open for 15 seconds to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now, only those registered with the Office of Disability Services will have their BuzzCards activated to keep the doors open, providing the extra time only for those with a need.
Faculty and staff should also be mindful of tailgating as they come and go from campus buildings after regular business hours. Many buildings are open during the day but become accessible by BuzzCard only in the evening. During those evening hours, allowing tailgating can negate the security that BuzzCard access provides.
- The Georgia Institute of Technology contributed to this report