Students and faculty will no longer have to queue up and fish out their QCards to gain entry onto campus. Instead, they can simply walk right in. As of August 7th, Queens College announced the implementation of a new campus access protocol in which QCards would no longer be required to access campus.
In the past few semesters, alongside a QCard, the college required proof of vaccination in the form of a Cleared4 Pass for entry onto campus. While initially a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this maintained a sense of restriction as to who could enter our enclosed community in Flushing. So, what exactly led to this dramatic policy shift?
According to Desirae Colvin, Chief of Staff to the President, in a statement to The Knight News, there were a multitude of factors involved when deciding whether or not to retain an ID tap-in policy:
‘‘QCard tap-in was instituted in 2020 as part of the COVID mandate instituted across the CUNY system…the CUNY COVID mandate was lifted in the Spring of 2023, after which time the question arose as to whether we should maintain some kind of ID tap-in policy,” Colvin said. “President Wu solicited feedback from the college community — faculty, staff, and students, as well as the President’s Council, the Personnel and Budget Committee, and the PSC, in labor-management meetings — and while there was a broad range of opinions, the feedback received was overwhelmingly in favor of a more open campus and supported phasing out the tap-in requirement associated with the COVID policy.’’
QC aims to recover its pre-pandemic sense of community as there are numerous offerings for people to engage alongside with or participate firsthand. This “open campus” policy also promotes visiting alumni or speakers for events easier access to get onto campus. While restoring a welcoming environment on campus that extends to the broader Queens community is a plus, it comes at the possible expense of our safety.
With the removal of identification checks, the critical question emerges: how can the safety of our community be ensured if people can just walk onto campus without showing identification? When asked this by The Knight News, Colvin said, “Public Safety Officers, who are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regularly patrol the campus, ready to respond to any incidents that should arise.”
While the presence of Public Safety on campus does act as a form of deterrence, there seems to be no form of prevention. While Queens College has traditionally been an open campus, what is really stopping one crazy person impersonating a student coming onto campus and causing trouble now that we no longer have to show identification? At the moment, it seems like nothing aside from the deterrence factor Public Safety poses to outsiders.
However, that’s not to say there aren’t any additional measures on campus to ensure our safety. Not only does Public Safety have a strong presence on campus, but there are surveillance cameras present in specific areas, and blue emergency phones as well. Blue emergency phones allow you to quickly reach the Public Safety office in the event of an emergency and are located throughout the campus.
These measures, of course, aren’t always guaranteed to be effective in an urgent situation. In the case of an emergency Public Safety Officers will always immediately respond, but they will also report the incident to the NYPD if needed.
‘‘Public Safety Officers immediately respond to all known and reported campus incidents. All incidents are assessed upon arrival and, if necessary, reported to the appropriate authorities for further action. For example, if a crime has been committed, the NYPD will be notified,’’ Colvin said. ‘‘When a person is not able to present a QCard, officers would request a valid government-issued ID. If the Public Safety Officer is not able to ID the person of interest, or if the individual refuses to comply, the NYPD would be notified.’’
The issue is then preventing serious unknown and unreported campus incidents, not responding to incidents. A form of deterrence is always preferred to have, and typically effective — but not always.
Students appear to have mixed reactions regarding this new policy. Some believe that the absence of ID tap-ins have made their day a lot more convenient, as Jenny Salazar, a sophomore, believes this has made her entrances into the school a lot easier. ‘‘In my experience, I’m so focused on getting to class that every time I would have to take out my ID to scan, I would forget where I put it. Now all I have to do is just walk into campus and head straight to class,’’ Salazar said.
However, others are concerned about anyone being allowed to wander onto school grounds if Public Safety doesn’t ask for ID. Jessica Calvo, a senior, is one example. ‘‘When I began as a freshman in 2020, there was an immense amount of stress on the importance of our cards. Even trying to get mine during COVID felt difficult, so I was under the impression that they were extremely important. To have them suddenly not hold the same value feels weird in my eyes.’’ Calvo said.
She went on to elaborate, ‘‘With this change I do feel less secure. Given all that happens in America, especially in schools, at this point I feel as though you can never be too safe. While I do understand the importance of accessible public spaces, the danger that exists out in our current world makes it hard to let go of this anxiety.’’
While the fact that campus has traditionally been open before is reassuring, one still has to question whether deterrence is enough for them to remain comfortable.
You can reach Public Safety at (718) 997-5911/5912. Visit the Queens College Campus Map to view all emergency phone locations. Visit this link to watch a video on Queens College’s active shooter procedure. Visit Queens College’s website to view the Public Safety homepage.