Lock and Load
It seems that once again we are on one of our periodic lock-the-door kicks here at Dartmouth. Just as the noble, indefatigable salmon is driven to swim hundreds of miles to seek out its home stream in order to spawn, so too is ORL irresistibly compelled to try to lock the doors every couple of years, despite tremendous hardship such as us telling them, every time they bring it up, that we do not want the doors locked.
Yet once again Marty Redman, Lynn Rosenblum, and the rest of the gang in Residential Life are swimming upstream, jumping over waterfalls, avoiding hungry bears, and such. And just as there is no good reason salmon can't lay their eggs in a different, somewhat more accessible stream than the one they hatched in, neither is there any discernable logic behind the periodic ORL spawning run (or whatever you want to call it).
The current incarnation of the plan we have rejected before is that the exterior doors to all of our dorms will soon be locked, and we will need fancy new proximity sensor IDs in order to gain access to dorm buildings. Apparently the new IDs will emit powerful radiation such that the door locks will detect your ID without you removing it from your pocket (when you are not near a door, the only function the ID will serve is that it will kill all your sperm).
I will admit that ORL has made the proposal rather compelling this time -- I mean, who wouldn't want a cool radioactive ID (and free, irreversible birth control)? However, I still think locking the doors is rather unnecessary. There isn't any crime wave here. All that has happened in the past year is that there have been a couple of incidents of shower peeking (and now the women's bathroom doors are locked with combinations only affiliated women know. Problem solved), plus the Zantop murders. Apparently none of the powers-that-be ever bothered to take a statistics class, because two murders this year after decades without any homicides really does not mean that crime is suddenly out of control.
And once again, we Dartmouth students, who are smarter than the average bear (or salmon), appreciate that a few headline-grabbing events do not mean that our community is no longer safe. ORL, however, has decided it's time to lock and load.
In order to be helpful, then, I have brainstormed a few of my own door-locking proposals that are much more fun than radioactive ID cards. Clip and save for future reference, ORL, and maybe one of these years you will finally be able to trick us into willingly discarding the wonderfully open, interactive, collaborative environment that our current living situation affords.
Plan 1: thumb or retinal scanners. I think one of the key flaws in the current door-locking proposal (besides, of course, the complete lack of a need to lock the doors in the first place) is that it requires us to carry something around. Give me a break! I am a busy college student; I find it quite challenging enough to remember to shower and feed myself every day. The only way I would remember to carry an ID card everywhere I go is if my ID were a part of my body, like a retina or a thumb, such that I could not forget it unless it fell off, in which case I would have bigger problems than unlocking the door anyhow.
Plan 2: Elizabeth-voice-gated locks. My friend Elizabeth has her computer set to recognize speech ("Computer, open blitzmail!"), except it only listens to her, no matter how precisely the rest of us try to imitate her speech pattern ("I said, 'Computer, open blitzmail,' goddammit!"). This locking plan would be similar: you could beg the door to open until you were blue in the face, but you would just have to wait for Elizabeth to arrive and tell the door to open, and then in you'd go.
Plan 3: Bridge of Death. A gaunt, wizened gatekeeper would guard each entrance, and inform any student wishing to enter the dorm that he must "answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see." If you answered a question incorrectly, you would be cast into the basement of Berry where the printout window is; this may not exactly be a Gorge of Eternal Peril but it's pretty much the same idea.
Now that really wasn't that hard once we put our minds to it, right ORL? Next time you try to sell us on the same idea we have soundly rejected before, please try to be a little more creative. And try to get Elizabeth to coach the rest of us as to how to get the door to open.