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Last updateWed, 10 Oct 2018 4pm

News

Security of Pier Village Apartments Questioned

Duplicated Key Provided: Unauthorized Access to Student Apartment


Pier Village 1After an unnamed student was given access to a Pier Village apartment via an “unauthorized duplicate” key, some students question the security of University-sponsored apartments.

According to Ashley Chavez, a senior communication student who lived in Apartment 426 during the 2016 – 2017 school year, an anonymous female student who lived in the same apartment lost her key. Rather than Chavez's apartment-mate report her loss to the University and pay a $104.95 fine for a replacement, she convinced a maintenance employee at Pier Village complex to give her a free duplicate key. 

“She asked the maintenance guy to let her in because we Pier Village people always use the concierge, never the resident assistants,” Chavez said, citing a five dollar fee charged by resident assistants to unlock doors. “So, she got let in and she managed to convince them to let her keep one."

Since the Office of Residential Life was unaware of the former student's duplicate key, she still had access to her apartment after graduation. 

According to Megan Jones, Associate Director of Residential Life, this is the first time a situation of this nature has been reported to the University. The University has been leasing apartments in Pier Village since 2005. 

“Pier Village management issues apartment keys to the University and Residential Life staff, in turn, distributes those keys to the individual students assigned to those units,” said Jones. “When students vacate the apartments, they are required to return their keys to the University. If any of the occupants’ keys are not returned, the locks are changed.” 

According to both Chavez and Jones, this protocol was circumvented because the student found her lost key and returned it at the end of the year. However, the former student still had access to her old apartment via the duplicate key. 

Maintenance regulations state that every time a non-University Pier Village resident moves out, the locks for the apartment are changed and new keys are issued to the new residents. However, according to Jones, the University only changes locks if a key is not returned when a student moves out. 

According to Chavez, she had been aware of the situation since the 2016 – 2017 school year before reporting it to the University in January 2018. 

“She was so excited to get [a duplicate key] for free,” said Chavez. “She found her old one and after that it’s literal history. She was like, ‘Now I can come down in the summer.’ She called me twice and asked [about using the apartment] once in the summer, and then for this past New Year’s Eve.” 

According to Chavez, she became uncomfortable with the her former roommate's request for access and reported the situation.

“She was so cool, but I just felt like my money was being used,” Chavez added.

"As soon as we were made aware of the situation, we took action, contacting Pier Village management to have the locks changed and refining the replacement key protocol with Pier Village," said Jones.

Following Chavez’s complaint to the University, the locks were changed in the apartment approximately two days later. Chavez said that her roommate at the time moved out after being made aware of the situation.

The University did not make a public announcement about the incident.

Pier Village 2Christine Taylor, a representative for Kushner Companies, which own the Pier Village apartment complex, stated that she would comment on behalf of the Pier Village general office. However, after multiple attempts from The Outlook to follow up with her, she did not comment.

Nicholas Manento, Area Coordinator for off-campus Pier Village and Bluffs apartments and on-campus Maplewood Hall, Great Lawn, and Garden apartments, declined to comment, directing queries to Jones. 

William McElrath, Chief of the Monmouth University Police Department (MUPD), also directed questioning to the office of residential life. 

In the University Pier Village apartments, four students are housed in a two-bedroom apartment, with two students sharing each room. During both the 2016 – 2017 and 2017 – 2018 academic school years, only two students lived in apartment 426.

According to the Residential Life Handbook, a student's residential status can be terminated if they engage in unsafe behavior, including permitting unauthorized persons to live in the unit, cause damage to the building or unit, interfere with the rights of other residents, make alterations to the unit, or break one of several other rules. 

“Safety and security is of utmost importance to our department and to the University as a whole,” said Jones. “A review of the most recently reported campus crimes statistics demonstrates the safety of our campus and importance of sharing responsibility for campus security, including in University-sponsored housing.” 

IMAGE TAKEN from society19.com

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