Repeated intrusions trigger lockdown at Murray Edwards

Hazel Shearing 13 February 2014

On Monday, Murray Edwards locked its doors to the world after another “intruder” was discovered in the college. He was found to have stayed overnight. The security crackdown has led to resentment and frustration amongst many of the students.

In an email addressed to all students, President Dame Barbara Stocking announced, “From today all entrances will be locked from dawn to dusk and you will need to use your access cards.” As all access to the college was previously closed at night, this now means that the college is under 24-hour lock-down.

While the President noted that “the intruder [had] not been found doing anything wrong” at the weekend, she highlighted it as an urgent security issue: “We clearly cannot take any risks with security in the College. We want to keep the College safe for everyone and as much as possible an open environment.”

This results from a series of incidents this term. In January, students were informed by Dean Dr Leo Miller that a “disorderly” male student from outside of college was found in the television room having slept overnight.

At the end of the month students were warned that college cards “are never to be loaned or given to anyone else. Doing so is a disciplinary issue.” One student was summoned by the Dean after having used her card to let friends cut through Murray Edwards to Churchill, who in turn let through several other male students.

It now appears that the lockdown itself is the result of one individual in particular, the “intruder” last weekend. Bursar Robert Gardiner noted that while no crime had been committed, the individual was “persistent”. Dame Stocking told students, “We are currently asking the police if it is possible for us to put up a CCTV image of the intruder as that would give you a better idea of the man we are concerned about.”

Gardiner emphasized to The Cambridge Student that there is “no question of the residential areas of the college being compromised”. The email sent by the President has caused concern to some students. Catriona, a second-year Natsci, told TCS: “It is actually quite scary knowing there’s someone lurking about in our college, especially because it’s so easy to get into. And everyone lets down their guard when they’re in college. I know I leave my door unlocked all the time.”

Yet this has not stopped all of the other students from feeling that the college has taken the new security measures a step too far. Annabel, a second-year historian, said: “It’s frustrating. It’s ridiculous that we should have to carry our college cards with us everywhere in college throughout the day, when other colleges are always open.” 

In response to students’ frustration at the measures, Gardiner said: “The arrangements are similar to those that operate in many colleges. It is inevitable that the changes will not be welcomed by all but they merely extend the security which applies to the residential areas of college in any event.”