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Students petition to open side entrances to residence halls

A picture of a side door entrance to the residence halls.

A student petition played a major role in a decision to change a policy that barred students from using alternative entrances to residence halls.

The policy kept side doors locked to limit traffic entering and exiting residence halls.

Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Tony Voisin said it was meant to prohibit the spread of COVID-19 among students.

A screenshot of the petition to unlock the side doors.

Grayling junior Carlie Wilson, who lives in the East residence community on campus, disagreed with the idea of funneling hundreds of students through the same entrance. 

After recognizing the shortcoming of the policy, she started a petition on which garnered both student and parent support.

By Monday, Feb. 15, the petition had 1,958 signatures.

"I didn't expect to get more than 10 signatures, but the signatures tick kept going up and up and the shares kept going up," Wilson said. "Pretty soon it was everywhere. It was all over Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter."

Voisin said there were two main reasons for the decision to reallow student access to the side doors.

"Number one: it would be totally ridiculous for me to try and say that students, parents and non-student feedback wasn't a part of that. But the other piece which was very important in our decision was the fact that transmission and cases were down," Voisin said.

A screenshot of the email students living in East Campus received just 24 hours before the side doors were opened.

The day after additional access was allowed to students, Voisin sent an email to students explaining why cameras and door alarms were being turned on. He also expressed the shared responsibility students share to keep campus safe.

"We understand it may be inconvenient to have limited access points to the building where you live, Voisin said in his statement. "However, we are asking that you please prioritize each other's safety and help us get to the other side of COVID-19, when residents and staff are able to move around the community more freely."

Many students and parents left messages of support on the petition, explaining why they felt compelled to sign it.

"With having every student walk through the same door, more students are coming in contact with one another and possibly being exposed to Covid-19," Elsie junior Emma Fatura said. "Right before the petition was made, students got an email regarding propping of the doors. In my opinion, this spiked anger and frustration from the students."

Fatura said she understands the risk of propping doors, but wondered why students couldn't use their IDs to get in like years past.

"As a CMU student, I have never signed a petition so fast in my entire life," she said.

Fatura said that she remembers getting the email in class saying the doors were unlocked and feeling relief.

"With how fast the petition was created and what short time it had to be shared, it made me proud to be a CMU student," Fatura said. "I was proud to see us all come together and voice our opinions to create real change."

Voisin said if the number of COVID-19 cases on campus rises again, the university will consider closing the side doors again.