The death of Annie Le at a Yale laboratory (here) brings up the very real threat of violence on campus. I work at a big university in a fairly urban setting, and I am sure that on any given day, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of graduate students working late into the night in their corner of some building. I know that one of my female grad students prefers a shifted work schedule, getting in around noon and working until 10 pm or midnight. That’s her choice, and I don’t have a problem with it, except that it means that she is walking home, alone, nearly every night, well past dusk (even in the summer). It is a safe campus, but we get crime alert emails whenever something happens, and so we are all aware of the potential danger. We have card readers on the building’s outside doors, so only those with reason to have access can get in, but there is nothing to stop the violence like that which occurred at Yale. The charge is that it was an employee attacking another employee. Our safeguards wouldn’t have caught this. I doubt that such a crime could be prevented without intense (both invasive and expensive) security measures.
I guess the answer is that it is a personal choice and depends on how safe you feel and how much you really need to do what you are doing while in the building (instead of, say, on a computer at home). We have desktops for our students, not laptops. I could let them check out a desktop and have it at home, but then would I ever see them again before graduation? Hmm.
How do you keep a workplace safe yet accessible?