UB students have mixed reactions to Sweethome’s new electronic locks

Students living in the University Village at Sweethome returned home from Spring Break to find more than just week-old food in the refrigerator and a pile of homework to catch up on.

The University Village at Sweethome, an apartment complex down the road from North Campus, installed electronic deadbolt locks at the main door of every building and individual apartment during spring break, an upgrade from the standard deadbolt.

Sweethome officials wouldn’t comment on the price of the new locks or whether or not they make the buildings safer, but did explain why the locks were changed to begin with.

“We upgraded the locks because they used to be just normal keys and the electronic lock system is more convenient,” said Alex Rukaj, a community assistant for University Village at Sweethome.

The change itself was small, but students had a variety of different reactions to it.

Sweethome did not upgrade to electronic deadbolts on the individual bedroom doors, meaning students now have to use two keys – one to get in the building and apartment and one to get into their bedroom.

Joey Hitchcock, a senior marketing major, said Sweethome was going to change to electronic deadbolts, they should have done so for the bedrooms as well.

“The fact that you have one key for your bedroom and one key for the front door is a little inconvenient,” he said.

Other students felt that while electronic deadbolts are probably safer, the upgrade may have been a waste of money.

“I think it was a waste of money because it’s no different than a [normal] key,” said Emily Jacobs, a junior accounting major.

Although Jacobs said she doesn’t feel the new electronic keys are much different than the old ones, she said there may still be some benefit to the change.

“I understand the benefit of it in that it probably would be safer than a normal key, since it’s electronic and you can’t pick it, but I don’t see it as very necessary,” Hitchcock said.

Previously, students said some of the Sweethome apartment buildings had broken locks on the building doors so anyone could enter.

One resident appreciated the new locks but, like Jacobs and Hitchcock, didn’t understand why they were installed.

“I like the new locks, I think they’re cool . . . I don’t really understand why they changed them though,” said Michael Cantando, a junior managerial information systems major.

Students might not have understood why Sweethome spent money on changing the locks, but they did seem to respect the process that Sweethome used in order to change them.

“They gave everyone enough notice [that the locks were going to be changed],” Hitchcock said. “They sent a lot of emails and put a letter on the front door of every building. We got a handout too, which was either slid under the door or in our mail boxes, I can’t remember which.”

The letter informed them that the locks would be upgraded during UB’s spring break.

“While we understand that most of you will be away for Spring Break during our lock upgrade, we believe that this is the best time to complete this project to limit disruption to our residents,” the letter stated.

Students were notified by email when their building’s lock change process was complete. Once emailed, they could pick up their new lock at the main office with ID. The letter stated that students would only be able to pick up their key during normal business hours, which, according to Sweethome’s website, run from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Some students planned accordingly for picking up their new keys.

“We left home earlier just so we could be here to get the key,” Hitchcock said.

While Hitchcock worked his schedule around the new locks, even those who didn’t were accommodated. Jacobs said that she arrived at 10:30 p.m. and was still able to get the new key for her apartment.

John Jacobs is the assistant features editor and can be reached at john.jacobs@ubspectrum.com