When will swipe access go away, committee wants to know


The Senate’s former Plant Utilization and Planning Committee — which became the Campus Utilization, Planning and Safety committee on Feb. 24 — received updates on community engagement, public safety and residence hall life at its Feb. 21 meeting.

The PUP committee became the CUPS committee after votes by Faculty Assembly on Feb. 16 and Senate Council on Feb. 24 approving the name change. The addition of safety to the name reflects an area the committee has long considered part of its purview. Read more about the name change in committee co-chair David Salcido’s Senate Matters column.

As part of the change, the committee also has asked someone from Pitt’s public safety department to be a regular contributor at its meetings. This week, Ted Fritz, Vice Chancellor for Public Safety and Emergency Management, kicked off these regular appearances by cautioning members of the Pitt community to be more aware of pedestrians as the weather improves and more people are outside.

He also took questions and comments from committee members about if and when swipe access to Pitt buildings will end. Chris Bonneau, immediate past president of Senate Council, said he and the other officers have raised concerns about privacy and convenience if the building monitoring continues post-pandemic.

“We think that’s not a way university should be run, particularly since it’s a solution in search of a problem, right? It didn’t exist pre-COVID,” said Bonneau, who also noted the difficulties it creates in bringing guests into University buildings. “I think there’s significant apprehension on behalf of faculty and staff that this may stay, and if it does stay, it’ll fundamentally change who we are as an institution and how we operate.”

Fritz said he shares Bonneau’s concerns and worries about the expense of maintaining the concierge stations. He said the future of the swipe system is on the agenda to be discussed soon. “Perhaps in some places it makes sense, maybe in others it doesn’t,” he said.

“I think it is a subject that’s open to debate, and I will say that not everybody feels that way either,” Fritz said. “I get both sides of it, and I hear people that do want more security or more restriction to building entry.”

Community engagement

Lina Dostilio, vice chancellor of engagement and community affairs, detailed some of the changes in the Office of Engagement and Community Affairs, which was split off last year from the Office of Government Relations.

In addition to Jamie Ducar moving into the role of executive director of the Engaged Campus, Keith Caldwell has moved from the School of Social Worker to run the Community Engagement Centers’ Continuity & Impact. He’ll help guide the Homewood and Hill District CECs, as well as the newly announced CEC in Hazelwood. There’s no location yet for the Hazelwood facility, but Dostilio said it will house a School of Nursing nurse practitioner clinic, an Office of Child Development outlet and will work closely with the BioForge being developed at Hazelwood Green.

The office also is looking for someone to work on data and impact measurement as part of its leadership team. In addition to Pitt’s Community Engagement Map, Dostilio said, “We also generate all different kinds of data points relative to the kinds of activities that are out there. We need somebody that’s comparing all of those data and helping us to understand what the eventual impacts of our work would be. Because it’s not really sufficient to do things places, what we’re hoping to have is an impact on people’s lives, or the environments around us or broadly, the communities around us. And so this is a person that for us is going to really lead in that area.”

The person in this new position also will help Pitt maintain its Carnegie Classification in Community Engagement, which it received in 2020 and is reconsidered for every six years.

Residence hall life

Julie Bannister, assistant vice chancellor for auxiliary services, shared a few updates about on-campus student life, including:

  • Pitt is in the process of purchasing the Marriott Residence Inn hotel on Bigelow Boulevard, which it will turn into housing for graduate and upper-level students. The space has 171 apartments — one and two bedrooms units and studios. There also are opportunities for meeting spaces within the former hotel, which Pitt is leasing this academic year to house the overflow of first-year students.

  • Family House, which provides space for families of patients at area hospitals, will be vacating the space it currently has in the University Club building sometime in the next few months. Bannister said that space also will be converted into housing for upper-level students. It would add 84 beds to the on-campus housing portfolio and also have additional space for meetings.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.


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