USC rolled out heightened security measures this week that restrict late-night guests and require identification checks for all visitors from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. But some campus neighbors said the changes go too far and make them feel unwelcome.
Dontez Sharpley approached the entryway to USC at Jefferson Boulevard and Trousdale Parkway late at night, expecting to make his usual trek through the campus to catch a bus home after a shift at the Starbucks across the street.
But as he walked onto campus, he was stopped by a security guard, who told him he was not allowed to pass through the university unless he was a registered guest. Exasperated, Sharpley, 22, ran along the perimeter before being stopped by another guard at another checkpoint.
"This is ridiculous," he told this guard. "People getting off of work, trying to go through there and you're telling them they can't?"
The changes come after two violent incidents last year rocked USC and prompted new calls for tighter security: The Halloween shooting on campus that left four people wounded, and a botched robbery in which two graduate students from China were killed less than a mile from campus.
Late-night visitors must now be preregistered online by a USC student, faculty or staff member. Outside promoters also are banned from working at USC social events on campus and Fraternity Row.
Until now, people roamed freely at USC, with many taking the safe, well-lit shortcut through campus. But with the new initiatives, USC closes most of its entrances after 9 p.m., blocking all but eight entryways with iron fences and temporary gates.
USC senior Reggie Mccollumm did a double take Monday night when he walked past the red metal gates.
"It looks like a prison," he said, laughing. "This is a joke. I'm sorry, this is awful. Just look at it."
It's a difficult balancing act, said Anne Glavin, president of the International Assn. of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
"I think USC is responding this way because they have to," Glavin said. "They have to look at what their first priority is, and that's their students, faculty and staff."
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Photo: Guards check a student's ID at an entry point to USC on Jefferson Boulevard on Monday night. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times