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The Eastern Echo Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

Outside the Legacy-Sponberg Theatre.

DMCJ department looks to bolster security after attempted theft in computer lab

Concerns come after second attempted theft within the past two years

At approximately 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 12, Eastern Michigan University professor, Matthew Hanson, was taking a few of his students to the computer lab in Judy-Sturgis Hill. However, he noticed the door leading to the lab was closed off, which was unusual as the lab was typically open for student use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. As Hanson and his class entered the lab, two individuals exited the area. In their place, they left the monitor for the computer ajar, a torchlight on the desk, and a missing security bar for the M1 Mac Mini.

"I'm obviously upset. I'm perhaps more upset this time because I saw the perpetrators. I was upset last time, too, but this time now I have a face to go with with it," Hanson said. 

Although unsuccessful this is now the second attempted theft in the Judy-Sturgis lab in the past year. Which now has raised concerns in the Digital Media, Cinema Studies, and Journalism department (DMCJ). 

"They weren't successful this time around, but because they got away with it the first time, you kind of think that it's the same. Oh, we got away with it once so we'll get away with it a second time," Keith Damron a media professor said. "So clearly it has us thinking we're going to need to beef up security."

Unlike other areas and labs in the DMCJ department, the Judy Sturgis computer lab does not have the funds to have a teacher assistant to monitor the lab. The lack of monitors present in addition to being in an isolated space with no cameras has put a target on the lab.  However, there have been attempts to improve security.

After last year’s theft of a $1,567 M1 Mac Mini, Steve Martin, the radio and TV engineer, manufactured security bars that appeared to be enough protection. However, the individuals this time used a lighter to heat and bend the metal. Now they look for new ways to enhance security. 

"So first thing I did was analyze the attack factor that was used and how they actually got the locking bar off and made new locking bars. I went to Alro Steel, got some 8 inch plate steel and made new locking bars that would not be vulnerable to the same methods. And so that was the only thing I could do immediately,” Martin said. "We also have a current request for departmentally funded project to get a security camera in. That has been approved and signed by our school director, and it's been sent on to administration for final approval. How long that will take, I could not tell you. In the meantime, we're greatly reducing the hours that we leave it open because we don't have any budget for a proctor to watch.” 

While the professors are worried about the funding of the security they are most worried about how the actions of the two individuals will affect their students. 

"I wish we could provide our students with more access, but, you know, we don't have a budget for personnel and monitoring in the space all the time or to just replace equipment because the equipment is expensive," Hanson said.

“My concern is that it takes away resources from our students and it's not like that equipment can just be replaced because we all work on tight budgets for the most part. I want my students to have the resources that we have available to them. And when someone tries to steal it, it's really upsetting,” Damron said. "That's just the bottom line. Just take good care of your equipment because even at the level of just misuse or abuse when something breaks or disappears, everybody suffers. And as I said before, for the most part, our students are conscientious, but few bad apples. They can spoil a whole bunch."