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Yue Ben / Senior Staff Photographer

After noticing that an average of 1,600 students per month were leaving their keys in their rooms, Columbia Housing is considering imposing a $20 fee for repeated lost keys.

Locked your key in your dorm room? Next semester, it could cost you.

The lockout policy is currently under review after administrators and students noticed that a high number of students—an average of 1,600 per month—are forgetting their keys.  

The proposed plan would charge students $5 each time they forget their keys after either two trips to the Hartley Hospitality Desk to pick up a key, or $20 after the first time they have their keys delivered to their rooms. The policy would not apply during the month of September to allow new students to get used to living in the dorms.

Christopher Godshall, CC '15 and a student services representative for Columbia College Student Council, said that he worked with Housing to make the policy more "palatable" for students after Housing's initial proposal. Columbia Housing was not available to comment before press time.

"It's probably going to happen next semester," Godshall said. "Their goal isn't necessarily to get the numbers down to X number per month, but to get the numbers as low as possible."

Godshall said that the goal was to finalize the policy by room selection in late March.

"What was said by students is that when policy changes are made, they should be made before room selection and disseminated during room selection so students are aware of them going into effect," Godshall said.

He added that the money collected from the fine will fund a project chosen by students, probably through an informal poll. 

"That way students can decide where it's going, and it's not just like sitting in an account in Housing," Goodshall said.

"I think it is a good gesture that they know that they're not doing this for any ulterior motives," CCSC Vice President of Policy Bob Sun, CC '14, said. "There were questions about that—I'm glad they've made it very clear that this is meant to reduce lockouts—it's not to make them more money."

CCSC had looked at other measures with Columbia Housing besides the fine system to lower the number of students getting locked out each month. Ultimately, though, the fine system was kept.

"Paying for things is not something any of our constituents would want to do," Sun said. "As a student representative, I can't say I'm completely happy with the outcome."

Still, Sun said that CCSC was satisfied that Housing was willing to discuss the council's concerns and negotiate.

Though Interim Dean Terry Martinez isn't directly involved with the policy changes, she said that she saw where Housing was coming from.

"There are some students who leave their keys in their room or leave their cards in their rooms like 30 times," Martinez said. "Imagine what that's like for someone sitting at that front desk."

 Students interviewed on Monday outside John Jay Hall, which had the most number of lockouts per month with an average of 388, and Hartley Hall, which had an average of 32 lockouts per month, voiced displeasure at the introduction of the fine.

"It would be sensible if the doors didn't lock you out," Muizz Salami, CC '15, said. "If you're in Broadway and you let the door close for a split second, you're locked out."

Other students worried specifically about the negative effect it would have on first-years.

 "When you first start out, you don't think about it," Mark Gorthey, CC '17, said. "I lost my key a bunch of times, and I'm not forgetful."

Emma Bogler contributed reporting.

elizabeth.sedran@columbiaspectator.com  |  @ezactron

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the fee for all lockouts would be $20. That fee would only apply to key assists, or when students have keys delivered to their rooms. The fee for picking up a key from Hartley would be $5. Additionally, the story said that Godshall worked with housing to develop the policy, when he responded with suggestions to Housing's proposal as a representative. Spectator regrets the errors.

Hartley Hospitality Desk Columbia Housing keys
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