Thoughts: Brown Lockdown


Hold onto your lanyards – Brown seems to be stepping up its internal security with a few new measures. First, J. Walter Wilson now requires swipe cards on weekends; no longer can we shimmy over to J Dubs in our pajamas to innocently and obsessively check our mail in the mornings. Similarly, I’m sure you’ve seen the new space-age apparatus set up in the Rock. The glass pane emblazoned with the Brown logo keeps the public out – in style. I feel like we have to stop and ask ourselves: what is the point of all these checkpoints? The way I see it, doors exist for two reasons, to keep people out, and to keep people in…

Keeping people out doesn’t just mean forgetful Brown students; it also means the Providence public. Now I’m not downplaying security. Besides, we do pay a lot to be here and safe. Yet I’m sure local citizens aren’t looking to tack on JWW to their Dunkin’ Donuts routine every morning, either. When the UPS guy needs me to come and open the door for him (this happened), then we may be going too far. Why exactly are we so stylishly adamant about keeping our libraries – our most tangible and easily-shared resources – closed to the rest of the world? The glass only lets people see what they’re not allowed to have.

Conversely, I know I have a tiny twinge of exclusivity every time I swipe into my dorm. From the libraries, to JWW and Faunce, and yes, even the Ratty, our IDs keep us in the in-group. But they also remind us of what we can’t be in: who doesn’t wish their cards could get them to the secret floors of JWW and the SciLi? This is the same feeling of access to somewhere prohibited that we satisfy when we naïvely swipe our cards the wrong way on RIPTA buses. We can get on the city bus system, but our neighbors can’t use their bus passes to get into the SciLi.

So what can you do? First, don’t try to beat the system at the Rock like I did, or the glass doors will clamp onto your leg and never let go. Second: stay equipped with your campus ID at all times! It’s bulky, and the lanyard look is oh-so “aughts,” I know; but anything to get out of this weather, right? Finally, keep in mind that Brown is a community within a community. We may be exclusive now, but once we graduate and those cards stop working, Providence or any other city won’t be so passively swiped into.

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