The recent announcement that GOCard access in residence halls has been extended from 10 p.m. until midnight is a small victory for campus convenience. But for members of certain groups, such as GERMS responders and Residence Hall Office employees, privileged access has been the norm for years.
Each active technician in Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service and RHO employee is given universal GOCard access to dormitories 24/7 during the academic year.
Extended access for all students is a welcome change, and this unrestrained access for some is, at first glance, a sound policy. Medical personnel should be able to access campus facilities at all times in order to best respond to an emergency, and employees of the RHO often serve residence halls other than their own. GERMS provides an invaluable — quite literally lifesaving — service to individuals associated with the university and surrounding neighborhood. But universal GOCard access poses a liability and could be improved with a new model.
Access could be regulated by creating a limited number of serialized GOCards to which GERMS or RHO employees on duty would have access. Left at the RHO desks or GERMS office, the cards would simply be signed out when a new crew started a shift and turned in at the end of it.
The history of universal GOCard access does show that, thus far, unlimited access has not been cause for much alarm. GERMS and other organizations that give students extended GOCard privileges certainly do not perpetuate an environment where abuse of the privilege is taken lightly. Yet it would only take one incident to throw the policy — and potentially the organizations — under critical review.
Regulating GOCard access to GERMS responders would only help ensure that GERMS would maintain its respected image.
There is the risk that removing universal access will prevent off-duty EMTs who are in close proximity to the emergency from responding. However, per GERMS protocol, only on-duty individuals are to respond to calls, except in the case of a mass casualty. And most technicians not on duty are unlikely to be equipped with the necessary medical supplies or tools needed to help the individual at the time.
Although the GERMS selection process is selective and its training rigorous, the potential for something regrettable happening with a large number of students navigating the campus with a master key is too high to ignore.