(CNS) Ten weeks after four people were shot at an on-campus Halloween party, USC officials are readying new safety checkpoints today to prohibit uninvited campus access at night.
Starting with the spring semester, guests will need an invitation from a student or employee, and government ID to walk or drive onto the privately-owned university at night.
Pedestrian gates are being completed around the campus, where guards will check guests in against invitations between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. They are the first access restrictions to pedestrians at the privately-owned university in modern history. "We will still be a welcoming place,'' said Vice President for Student Affairs Michael L. Jackson in announcing that the gates, which will be locked overnight for the first time on Jan. 14. "That is the goal.''
On Halloween night, an alleged gang member, Brandon Spencer, 20, allegedly fired shots at an on-campus dance. Four people were wounded, including former Crenshaw high football standout Geno Hall. Spencer is jailed facing four counts of attempted murder.
It was the first on-campus shooting in two decades, USC officials said. The school immediately banned outside event promoters on the campus and on the nearby fraternity and sorority row.
Campus police were also put in charge of checking IDs on persons attending on campus events. Starting next week, the campus will be closed to outside visitors at night unless they are registered by a USC student or employee, and present valid government ID. Cars driven onto campus at night will have their license plates recorded and checked to see if they are stolen.
The USC Daily Trojan has quoted the school's police chief, Carey Drayton, as saying the new security rules will be just like entering the Coliseum through the student gate. "I don't think students will have a problem,'' the Daily Trojan quoted him as saying.
"However, faculty and staff aren't used to having to show their IDs to get on campus. That's just going to be a different process for them,'' the newspaper quoted the chief.
Under the new policy, all pedestrian gates to the walled campus will be closed at 9 p.m. nightly, and reopened to all people at 6 a.m. Guards will be posted at checkpoints at the eight busiest gates to enforce the ID and registration rules. "We are trying to balance convenience and safety,'' Drayton said in a USC statement. "This is the most effective way we can go about achieving that balance.''
The new rules go into effect on the first Monday of spring semester classes, Jan. 14. Registration and other activities are scheduled on Thursday and Friday this week.