Photo by Alina Ferguson | View of campus apartments through trees from College Creek parking lot.

Recent break in at the campus apartments leads to questions of safety of the Cal Poly Humboldt dorms

Recent break in at the campus apartments leads to questions of safety of the Cal Poly Humboldt dorms
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by Alina Ferguson

During the summer of 2022, a unit of the campus apartment complex was broken into. The police were able to find and arrest the burglar. Executive Director of Auxiliary Operations Stephen St. Onge explained that the units were unoccupied during the break in and no students were harmed. 

“Unfortunately when the Campus Apartments are not occupied, they become a target,” St. Onge said. 

The Campus Apartments were not originally part of the campus. According to St. Onge, the building was bought to build infrastructure. 

“The purchase of Campus Apartments, it was going to be for temporary housing,” St. Onge said. “Then the building was gonna be taken down and then an academic building was going to be put there.”

 Due to its origins, the building is outward facing, easily accessible from the footbridge that leads to Arcata. There is no gate and the doors to the bedrooms are what people see first.  These apartments do not use a key card to get in. Instead, they use a physical key issued to each student. 

 St. Onge mentioned that there is a rather robust camera system set up in the complex, lined with over 400 cameras.

“We spent over 1.2 million dollars on a very robust security system, every entrance to every residence building has a camera on it,” St. Onge said. “If you go to Campus Apartments, I think it’s about 400 cameras.” 

 The surveillance system on campus can track someone’s whereabouts through the whole campus. 

“If I could pull up a camera, you could see how detailed those things are,” St. Onge said. “You’re wearing a gray sweater vest right? So we could type into the search parameters, female, brown hair, gray sweater vest and they will- boop boop boop, and you put in a time parameter, and we could walk you across campus.” 

Other campus housings has camera systems, and College Creek has a gate system. Access to the College Creek dormitory door requires first going through a locked gate. Then, there is an additional key to get into the actual apartment. The system of electric keys makes it safer to live at the apartments. If you lose or misplace your key, you can get it deactivated, which means even if someone picks it up, it cannot be used to gain access into your apartment, unlike the physical keys used for the campus apartments. 

Since there are plans to demolish the Campus Apartments and replace them between the years of 2028 and 2029, there are no plans to install new safety features in the worn out building. All of the safety measures for Campus Apartments are reactionary safety measures, while other dorms have preemptive safety measures. 

Jared Van Der Loo, a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, lives at Campus Apartments with three other male students. He said the apartment gets hot and stuffy, and often they will have to leave the screen and the door open, even at night. He said he thinks adding additional measures that other campus dorms have could improve the safety of the Campus Apartments. 

“I feel somewhat safe in the campus apartments,” Van Der Loo said. “With there being four guys I think we can look out for one another. I also think safety from mold could be improved.” 

Another student, Ralph Valle, who lives on the third floor of the Campus Apartments, said he personally does feel safe, but as he knows there have been incidents at the school, he is very weary.

“In my mind I have been prepared for any weirdness,” Valle said. “Almost like a PTSD thing where I am ready to jump if someone tries to get in while I’m inside.” 

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