In & Out: How the Gatehouse screens visitors

Jared Crain, Campus Carrier Deputy News Editor

In its two years of operation, the Berry College Welcome Center has kept record of every vehicle that has passed in and out of the entrance and exit gates at the main Gatehouse, Maple Drive and the Service Road. 

In February of last year, approximately 227,000 vehicles were scanned as passing through the gates, and according to assistant vice president for campus security Gary Will, an estimated 1.66 million vehicles passed through over the course of the calendar year. 

Junior Julia Gomez, student                    supervisor of the Gatehouse Welcome Center, explained that almost everyone is allowed to come onto the campus during visiting hours assuming that they meet the basic entry requirements: possessing a decal, a student ID and/or a driver’s license.

“The purpose of the gatehouse is for the safety and security of the students, and it’s not really to keep anyone off campus, but to keep the people on campus safe,” Gomez said. “We scan (visitors’) licenses and that’s all. We don’t go through their privacy information, it’s just there for safety purposes.”

According to Gomez, when a student comes through the main Gatehouse, their student ID essentially determines their ability to enter. A scanner on the wall raises the gate if the ID is valid. If the card does not read, then the staff and dispatchers see that their cards have been deactivated and the student is not supposed to be there for whatever reason.

Freshman Bridget Gallamore, a staff member at the Gatehouse Welcome Center, explained that while they let everyone with a driver’s license or valid student ID onto campus through the main Gatehouse, visiting hours restrict direct access for visitors during the evening unless there are anticipated evening events on campus.

“There are visiting hours that end at   7 p.m., and if a student would like a guest to come on campus after that, they have to call the gatehouse,” Gallamore said. 

Nights on which concerts, sports games and other events occur are exceptions to visiting hours. Anyone can enter the gate on such evenings to attend.

Will explained that the Gatehouse serves a strong purpose of accountability for faculty and staff, students and visitors alike. 

“With the Welcome Center and the  service road and the technology involved, they’ve been able to prove a lot of things in student conduct investigations, but they’ve also been able to disprove,” Will said. 

When an accusation is brought up against someone for violating rules or laws on campus property, the Gatehouse scanning technology can validate or      disprove such claims by showing whether or not the accused was on campus in the first place.

When a student is unable to enter campus due to misconduct or code violations, there must be valid paperwork to validate his or her inability to enter campus. 

“The only time that somebody may not be allowed on campus is if there’s       something from student conduct,                     somebody’s been suspended potentially, where a decision has been made by the executive of the campus,” Will said. 

If an executive decision is made to prevent a student from entering campus, Campus Safety can deactivate their     vehicle decals and prohibit them from entering through any gate, including the main Gatehouse. 

Will explained that official paperwork or a court order were necessary before actions would be taken to ban somebody from the property and from entering campus through the Gatehouse.

“It’s not to turn people away, it’s just a matter of us keeping track of who’s coming on our campus,” Will said. “It’s warm, it’s welcoming, but it’s being attentive to who’s coming on and who’s going off of campus.”

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