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UCLA Rapes Spur Stricter Dorm Rules

February 19, 1987|TRACEY KAPLAN | Times Staff Writer

Rapes in UCLA undergraduate residence halls have prompted new security measures that are among the toughest in the nine-campus UC system.

Under rules instituted earlier this semester, visitors to UCLA's four high-rise dormitories between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. must sign a guest log, leave a photo identification card such as a driver's license with dorm personnel and be met in the lobby and escorted upstairs by their student hosts.

In addition, UCLA officials have stiffened penalties for students entering or leaving the four undergraduate residence halls through unmonitored doors and have stepped up police surveillance. The administration also plans to hire a private consultant to consider the feasibility of closed-circuit TV and redesigning dormitory doorways for better security.

On Jan. 10, a student was raped in the middle of the night by two men who entered her unlocked dorm room, University Police Lt. Jim Kuehn said.

Strong Reaction

Rapes are "a cyclical thing," said Kuehn, a 17-year veteran of the campus police force. "But this last rape was so brutal that the students came down hard on the administration. For some reason, the kind of reaction that occurred this time was much stronger."

The new measures affect about 3,200 residents living in the four high-rise residence halls--Hedrick, Dykstra, Sproul and Rieber. They make up about 75% of the students living in university housing and about 10% of the entire student population.

University officials said the new measures had been in the works for six years but were only imposed last month in response to a number of rapes in the high-rise halls.

Three of the five rapes reported last year on campus occurred in high-rise dorms, Kuehn said. They were "acquaintance rapes," or rapes committed by assailants who were known by the victims. Kuehn said two rapes were reported on campus in 1983 and 1984, and six rapes were reported in 1982.

Six days after the Jan. 10 rape, the administration instituted its new security program and began enforcing existing security rules. That same day, officials had received a petition signed by about 500 Hedrick Hall residents calling for tighter security. Similar petitions were circulated in the other undergraduate high-rises.

Liability Concerns

"We had the vestiges of all these programs in place before," said Michael Foraker, on-campus housing director. "But after the incident on Jan. 10, we enacted a more detailed program more rapidly than we would have otherwise."

Foraker said concern for students' safety was the primary reason for the security measures, followed by liability concerns.

Although California law provides the university with special legal defenses not available to private institutions, the system is still vulnerable to a lawsuit, said John F. Lundberg, managing university counsel for the UC Regents.

Patricia M. Jasper, UCLA campus counsel, said she was not aware of any legal action filed by victims of violent crime in campus residence halls anywhere in the country. However, she said there has been a recent series of lawsuits, some of which were filed against universities, related to liability for assaults in parking lots.

UCLA Officer Leslie Lodge, who is in charge of crime prevention and co-directs rape prevention services, said the success of the new security program depends mostly on the students.

"You can have the best locks, but if doors are propped open or if people don't call in suspicious behavior, what good are they?" Lodge said. "People have to be educated to make it all work."

Across town at USC, security measures similar to UCLA's have been in use for 10 years, said Jim Dennis, vice president of student affairs. The school is at the edge of South-Central Los Angeles, a far less affluent area than Westwood.

Similar Systems

Within the UC system, security measures at Berkeley and San Diego are also similar to UCLA's. At UC San Diego, dorm residents use special keys to operate the elevators. The buildings are not locked until evening, campus Police Chief John Anderson said.

Unlike UCLA, dorm visitors at Berkeley are not required to leave photo IDs with dorm personnel, said Sgt. Barbara Buchanan. And students use keys to lock and unlock doors instead of the magnetically encoded cards and electronic readers used by UCLA students. Known as "card readers," the access systems were installed at UCLA in November. Berkeley's system has been in use for at least six years, Buchanan said.

Alan L. Hanson, director of residential life at UCLA, said the university was slow in imposing the stricter security measures because crime was not a major issue when the high-rises were built between 1959 and 1964. "Westwood wasn't the urban place then that it is today," he said.

The population of Westwood has nearly doubled in the last 27 years, from 29,782 in 1960 to 54,171 in 1985, according to census bureau statistics. Crime has increased as a result, said LAPD Officer John Beeson, a community relations officer with the West Los Angeles Division.

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