The University of New Mexico is doing something it’s never done before: lock the public out of a building. That’s because it sits along Central and too many non-students are using it for all the wrong reasons.
The Chair of the Communication and Journalism Department says the Central crowd loves to use the bathrooms there. What they’re doing in these bathrooms has become a problem.
“Sometimes we found syringes. Sometimes we found condoms,” said David Weiss. “A single was occupied by more than one person. We had couples coming out of the bathroom.”
Weiss says all of this activity started happening more frequently last year. He assumes it’s because the building is at the corner of Central and Yale, a popular homeless hangout.
He says this summer was the last straw.
“I found a gentleman wearing almost nothing but a little pair of shorts, basically giving himself a bath in the sink,” said Weiss.
Students like Kara Gonzales say it was alarming to know this was happening while students and staff were in the building.
“Maybe this will prompt the city to start looking at facilities for people in areas that they naturally congregate,” she said.
That’s when Weiss suggested adding an ID card reader.
“If you are authorized to be here, if you are a UNM faculty member or student, you have an ID card,” said Weiss.
The card reader was installed last week, but it’s already causing confusion for some students who were used to the building always being open.
Weiss says it’s just a matter of getting used to the new change.
“I feel like they no longer have to worry that people are going to be in, what are public bathrooms, but doing things that are illegal or immoral,” he said.
Even though the card reader is only a week old, Gonzales says it’s already putting her at ease.
“I felt a little strange being here by myself and I’m glad that it’s locked and people can’t wander,” she said.
Weiss says it’s still a public building with a public bathroom. The staff will still let people in, but at least they can keep an eye on who’s coming in and out.
The C&J building is the only academic building on campus that requires an ID to gain entrance.