In 1999, before any security concerns came to Penn State University, Jerry Sandusky was named the major college Assistant Coach of the Year by The American Football Association.
On November 5, 2011, Sandusky was charged with 40 counts of molesting eight boys.
According to Stan Latta, the assistant vice president for student affairs and interim director of campus recreation, after Sandusky’s trial, the Free Commission gave the university “110 recommendations,” to update the university’s security. One of their recommendations was to expedite campus recreation’s discussion regarding controlled access to the recreation facility.
“Both in our 100 percent athletic facility and also our general purchase recreation facilities, we’ve accelerated our security efforts to ensure that those folks using those facilities are legitimate faculty, staff, retirees, students of the facilities,” said Latta.
Before this update, Penn State University was the only Big 10 School that did not have swipe access into the campus recreation facility. To control entry into the facility, the university implemented Fusion, a software that controls access for equipment, rental space and provides images of members so employees can match IDs and faces.
In both of the campus rec facilities, Latta said they’ve included close-circuit TVs placed strategically throughout the facility and alarmed doors that, if left opened for even a short period of time, will set off an alarm. This is to ensure students will only enter through doors where employees can see who is coming and going.
“Our primary duty is to support our students,” explained Latta. “Secondarily, our faculty and staff, our students pay tuition to come to the institution. They pay an activity fee, they pay a facility fee, and those fees are used to renovate and upgrade our facility. So the students are actually paying for these upgrades and for these facilities.”
This means the outside community will no longer be welcome to use the recreation facility. Latta is assuming this will present a learning curve for both the community and the professional and student staff. “A lot of community folks don’t like to hear that because Penn State is this little idyllic community located in central Pennsylvania where nothing bad ever happens,” added Latta. “Well, something bad did happen and it caused us to take a look at who we’re having allowed access into these facilities and how we might control that in a better way.”
Before any of these changes took place, Latta sat down with the president of the undergraduate student association and the president of the graduate student associate, as well as the campus recreation advisory board to get their feedback. This allowed for Latta to explain why the security update was important and hear their concerns.
For any other recreation facility renovating its security, Latta encourages the directors to start with design. “We have one point of entry and exit for the entire facility. So that is ideal. We have another facility on campus that has 64 different doors. So trying to create a security system for that particular building is a physical challenge,” said Latta. “So, to the extent possible when you’re renovating, if you can create a project that will create one point or maybe no more than two points of entry and exit, that’s ideal. And talk to your students about why you’re doing it. And get their buy-in. It makes it a lot easier.”