Students concerned about key fob safety for apartments in West Campus

Anna Canizales

As some West Campus apartment buildings switch from traditional keys to electronic key fobs, students expressed concerns about the new technology as well as their safety and reliability.

Robby Goldman, a radio-television-film sophomore, said that key fobs are inconsistent, their batteries die at inconvenient times and can be more time consuming than traditional keys when they do not work correctly.

Goldman, who lives at The Castilian, said he was once locked out of his room at midnight because his fob didn’t work. He said maintenance had to drill a hole through the door to open it and replace the battery. 

“The technology is not the best,” Goldman said. “If they’re (going to) have fobs, they should also have emergency keys … There (has to) be better technology out there. Hotel rooms have been doing it with plastic cards for years now, and it mostly works.”

Aaron Voyles, director for residence hall operations in University Housing and Dining, said key fobs are also beneficial to students’ safety and can be very convenient when they work correctly. He said one of the main benefits is the ability to lock buildings after a certain time of night and restrict access to those without fobs. 

Voyles said using key fobs adds an extra security layer for students. Key fobs unlock residences and also limit access by nonresidents to elevators, gyms, study rooms and other common spaces. 

Undergraduate studies sophomore Madison Mallach uses a fob and said that the costs of using one outweighs the benefits. She said keys are more reliable and inexpensive than fobs. 

Mallach, who lives at West Campus complex Skyloft, said it’s a nice safety feature to have buildings automatically lock at night. However, she said she would be fine without extra security if it meant having a physical key that can always unlock her room and can’t have technical malfunctions.

“Your safety shouldn’t be digital,” Mallach said. “It should be manual.” 

Voyles said apartment buildings generally strive to make key fobs as convenient as possible for students and respond to any problems they have quickly.

“It’s easy if you lose a fob,” Voyles said. “We can reprogram it very quickly. We have personnel that can respond 24/7, so if a student had a fob that went down, they could go to the front desk, and we can get them a new temporary fob and troubleshoot it.”