Key Policy

Lockshop, Key, and Electronic Access Policy


  • Introduction
  • Proprietary Statement
  • Issuance of Keys
  • Lost or Stolen Keys and/or Cards
  • Return of Keys
  • Electronic Access
  • Electronic Access by Academic Coordinators/Administrative Assistants/Summer Programs
  • Electronic Access Emergency Procedures
  • Loaning of Keys or Cards
  • Lock Changes
  • Department Responsibilities


In an educational institution there is a need to balance the accessibility and use of facilities with the need to provide a safe and secure environment. Facilities Management, Information Technology and the Amherst College Police work in a cooperative relationship to provide access through mechanical and electronic means to facilitate optimum use of the facilities. This policy seeks to address access concerns while maintaining the most appropriate level of security.

Proprietary Statement

All locks, keys, and electronic access cards are the sole property of Amherst College. Amherst College reserves the right to change locks, keys, and access levels as needed. No one may place a lock on an Amherst College facility, interior or exterior, that is not on an approved Amherst College system without the permission of the Director of Facilities Operations or his/her designee. All keys and access cards must be returned to Amherst College upon termination of employment or enrollment.

Issuance of Keys

  • Faculty and staff members may be issued keys to Amherst College facilities based upon need of access. Faculty and staff members must be authorized by the appropriate Dean, Administrator, or Chair of the department.  Employees must have an Amherst College Datatel number in order to be issued keys.
  • Keys for academic facilities issued to students for reasons of research, off hours studies, or other legitimate purposes may be authorized by department chairs. The department chairperson accepts all responsibility for the issuance, use and return of these keys.
  • Master level keys will not be issued to students for any reason.
  • Master keys shall only be issued with authorization of the Chief of Police. In the absence of the Chief, the Director of Facilities Operations will act as the authorizing agent. 
  • Non-College personnel, vendors and contractors shall not be issued keys on a permanent basis. Contractors, vendors, and other personnel may be authorized to sign keys out from the Amherst College Police Dispatch on a daily basis. Only those Directors, Supervisors, and Managers--approved by the police chief-- may authorize the issuance of keys. 
  • Employees who are issued master keys as part of their job requirements must store those keys in a secure area in a locked box. Master keys to College facilities shall not be removed from the campus on a regular basis and should be returned to the secure lock box at the end of the work day. Exemptions to this rule may be made on an individual basis based upon compelling need and will be evaluated upon appeal to the Chief of Police.

Lost or Stolen Keys/Lost or Stolen Access Cards

Keys:  All lost or stolen keys must be reported to the Police Department. Requests to replace lost or stolen keys must be made to the Chief of Police or his/her designee. Requests should be in writing and describe the facts surrounding the loss; in particular, the location of the loss, whether or not there were Amherst College identifiers attached to the key, and the area that the key accessed. Based on the factors involved the Chief or his/her designee will make a decision to replace the key or require the lock changed. All costs incurred such as labor and parts for re-keying shall be assumed by the individual (student) or department of an employee who has lost keys. Contractors who lose assigned keys will be financially accountable for the costs of lock changes that are required.

Cards:  Lost cards should be reported to ID Services during business hours. ID Services will replace the card. After hours, lost cards should be reported to the Amherst College Police Dispatch. ACPD Dispatch can provide students with a 72 hour temporary access card until such time ID Services reopens. All suspected stolen cards should be reported right away to the ACPD so that the card can be deactivated.

Learn more about ID Services and contact them at

Return of Keys

  • Upon termination of a relationship with the College, employees must return their keys to their department chair, dean, or administrator. The department must return the keys to the Lock Shop. Keys should not be simply handed from a departing employee to a new employee by department administrators. The Lock Shop shall re-issue keys to new employees upon completion of the appropriate documentation.
  • Keys that are issued to students by a department chairperson remain the responsibility of that chair until returned to the Lock Shop. It is suggested that departments seek a means of key accountability from students. Amherst College Police shall be available for consultation on methods of accountability. Should a number of keys be unaccounted for, the Chief of Police may require a lock change for security reasons. If this occurs from a lack of accountability of a department's issued keys, the financial cost will be the department’s responsibility. 

Electronic Access

All students, faculty, and staff are issued an electronic access card. Administrative function of the electronic access system shall be the responsibility of the Information Technology Department. Information Technology will manage the master schedule for locking and unlocking buildings equipped with electronic access.  The master schedule will reflect the schedule of use of the building during the academic year and will mirror the schedule the ACPD Community Service Officers use to patrol and secure buildings.  The presence of electronic access does not negate the need for physical patrols of buildings.   Information Technology will work with the Deputy Chief of Police in establishing an academic year schedule, a “break” schedule, and a summer schedule.   Information Technology will also manage annual audits of access granted to academic and/or administrative areas. 

  • Access is defined as having access using an AC ID at certain doors
  • Unlock is when the door is placed in an unlocked state
  • Decisions of access to residential buildings shall be decided in cooperation by the Amherst College Police and the Office of Student Affairs.
    • Access is defined as having access using an AC ID at residence hall doors.
    • Residence Halls are only put in “unlocked mode” for very rare circumstances
    • Residence Halls may only be put in “unlocked mode” with permission from the Police Chief or designee.
    • Electronic Access to other facilities shall be decided in cooperation by the Amherst College Police and the appropriate Administration.
    • Access and Unlocked are made up of Groups, Calendars, and Schedules.  Buildings are pre-configured for the purpose of needing minimal change.   Many groups are pre-populated by automated feeds from Human Resources (employees) or Course Registration (students)
    • Amherst College guest cards that may be used as electronic access keys for the Athletic Center are administered by the Athletic Department. Amherst College policy shall determine the encoding of access privileges. Policy on access privileges shall be determined in advance by Athletics in consultation with the Chief of Police. The Guest Card itself remains the property of Amherst College and must be surrendered upon demand or upon termination from the College.
    • Amherst College Police retain the right to change access levels and deny access to facilities based upon security considerations.

Electronic Access Management by Academic Coordinators/Administrative Assistants/Summer Programs

  • Academic Coordinators, Administrative Assistants, and Administrators are enabled and authorized to control electronic access to areas under their control. 
  • Academic Coordinators and Administrative Assistants may also authorize access for students in programs that require off hours access to laboratories, studios, or study space.  The following principles shall apply:
    • Only those with a demonstrated need for access shall be granted access, e.g. department thesis majors to those requiring office/lab/studio space.
    • Access privileges shall be only for a semester at a time
    • Audits may be conducted by the ACPD and IT Departments and access privileges removed as security needs dictate
    • Certain Academic Coordinators, Administrative Assistants, and Administrators are trained by Information Technology in setting schedules for the unlocking and locking of doors under their control.  Permission for “unlock” privileges to areas for Academic Coordinators, Administrative Assistants, or other Administrators must be approved by the Police Chief or designee.
      • Examples:  Student Activities controls the Power House and the O’Connor Commons.   Athletics controls the doors to the complex and the gates at Pratt Field.  
    • Summer Programs has permission to “unlock” academic buildings in order to meet its mission for the college.  To that end, Summer Programs will be issued swipe cards that are enabled to lock and unlock certain buildings.  These cards will be separate and distinct from employees’ personal cards and will be treated the same as master keys.
    • Summer Programs will work with the Information Technology Administrator and the Deputy Chief of Police to establish a base schedule for summer. 
    • Certain Summer Programs Administrators will be trained and authorized to set “lock” and “unlock” schedules as determined by the Chief of Police.
    • Amherst College Police retain the right to change access levels and deny access to facilities based upon security considerations.

Electronic Access Emergency Procedures

  • In the event of an emergency requiring a “lockdown” or “secure in place”, in conjuncture with the college’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and Emergency Mass Notification System (EMN) AC-Alert, the Amherst College Police may remotely and instantaneously lock all exterior doors on the Electronic Access System.   Members of the college community would have access to all buildings, even those not normally accessible, during this procedure by way of their college issued identification card.
    • Exception is high security areas such as Mead Art, Laser Labs, or the PAC room
    • At the conclusion of an event, in connection with the “all clear” message sent via AC-Alert, the Amherst College Police would restore the buildings to their normal operating status.

Loaning Keys, Access Codes or Access Cards

Faculty, staff, and students may not loan or transfer assigned keys, codes or access cards. Anyone found in the possession of another's keys or electronic access cards shall have the keys or cards confiscated by the Amherst College Police. Loaned access cards shall be removed from the Electronic Access system.

Lock Changes and Upgrades

Locks may be changed or upgraded as the needs of the College dictate. As part of a preventative maintenance program, Facilities routinely replaces worn or obsolete hardware. The Chief of Police and the Director of Facilities Operations may decide to upgrade or change lock hardware as security considerations dictate.
Any re-keying or lock changes initiated by a department head or chairperson for any other reason will be the financial responsibility of that department.

Reporting Problems

Issues with keys or mechanical locks should be reported to the Facilities Service Center during the normal business work week/day.  The Service Center can be reached between 7 AM and 4:30 PM at (413) 542-2254.  

Issues with Electronic Access systems can be more complicated.   Generally, it is still best to contact the Service Desk and describe the problem.  The Service Center can guide your concern to the appropriate person.   A good description of the problem helps guide the response.   If the reader turns “green”, but the lock doesn’t disengage, it is a mechanical issue.   If the reader stays “red”, it may be a problem with the reader, your card, or your assigned access level.  

The College Lockshop is located on the first floor of Services Building or call the Service Desk at (413) 542-2254 (7 AM to 4:30 PM).  The Information Technology System Administrator may be reached at 413-542-2617.   For after-hours emergencies, call the Amherst College Police (ACPD) Dispatch Center at (413) 542-2291

Department Responsibilities

Amherst College Police

  • The Chief of Police is the final authority on all issues of physical and electronic access.  The Police Chief may deny and/or revoke privileges of access and lock/unlock as security needs dictate.
  • Develops, distributes, reviews, implements and enforces the Key Control Policy. It is the responsibility of the Chief of Police or his/her designee to ensure compliance with this policy.
  • Assists Facilities with the development of keying systems.
  • Assists Information Technology with the Electronic Access System of the residential halls and specific other facilities.
  • Coordinates with the Lock Shop hardware replacement and upgrades.
  • Maintains key control of master keys for non-college personnel.
  • Investigates all reports of lost or stolen keys, misuse of access codes, and all attempts to circumvent security systems.
  • Monitors Electronic Access System for emergencies, failures, etc.
  • Conducts continuous surveys of locking mechanisms in all College owned facilities.


  • Establishes and maintains keying systems in coordination with campus departments for the purpose of security and reasonable access.
  • Maintains the central key control records and privileges issued to faculty and staff.
  • Procures and issues all keys and locks.
  • Securely stores all unassigned keys.
  • Performs all lock work except that being done on a contractual basis.

Information Technology 

Personnel/Students Who Are Issued Keys

  • Must sign a key issuance record.
  • Must maintain the security of issued keys.
  • Must report lost or stolen keys to the Amherst College Police.
  • May not lend or have duplicated any key issued to them.
  • Must return all keys to the Lock Shop upon termination from the College.
  • Must pick up keys personally at Lock Shop OR Administrators may designate in writing an authorized person to pick up keys.

Administrators and Faculty

  • May request keys to be issued for areas under their direct control
  • Are responsible for all keys issued by them to students, lab assistants, etc.
  • Are responsible for the collection and return of student keys issued by them.
  • Are financially responsible for lock changes that occur due to a lack of accountability for issued keys.
  • May hold and re-issue student keys for areas under their direct control. It remains incumbent upon the Faculty or Administrator to maintain an audit of key issuance.
  • May –upon being trained—grant Electronic Access for those areas under their control that has that technology.
  • May not re-issue staff keys. Terminated staff's keys must be returned to the Lock Shop. Key management and record keeping is the responsibility of the Locksmith.
  • May request lock changes or upgrades in their area of direct control. The Chief of Police and the Director of Facilities Operations shall examine the current locking system and make recommendations. Lock changes initiated by an Administrator or Faculty member shall be the financial responsibility of the individual department.


  • Are responsible for the safekeeping of Amherst College keys while in possession of them.
  • May not loan keys to other contractors.
  • May not use keys to enter areas that are not part of a job.
  • Must return keys to the Amherst College Police Department at the end of each workday.
  • Should a contractor leave campus with a set of Amherst College keys, it will be incumbent upon the contractor to return to the campus and return the keys.