« Our checks are designed to protect people »

While the vast majority of the university community works or studies at home, the eight agents of the Security, Environment, Prevention (UniSEP) service are on duty 24 hours a day on campus. Interview with their coordinator Floriane Lavanchy, Deputy Head of the Security Group.

Floriane Lavanchy, you and your team have continued to work at the Dorigny site since its closure on March 13. How are you experiencing this period?

It’s a very special time. Normally, the site welcomes some 15,000 students and 4,000 employees every day. So when most of its occupants are away and you find yourself alone in these large spaces, it really feels empty! Fortunately, the sheep that were away for the winter have returned. Their presence puts a little life into the landscape.

However, the campus is not totally empty. Some activities haven’t stopped and others are being resumed…

Yes, some employees have stayed on to keep UNIL running, such as IT specialists, people in charge of the animal research facilities or teachers who give their courses by videoconference from their offices. With the partial resumption of on-site research activities on 27 April and the reopening of the Internef and Unithèque library loan counters on 11 May, attendance has increased, particularly at the Genopod and Biophore where the laboratories are located. But the importance of these visits remains minimal compared to what we knew before Covid-19.

What are the main tasks of the Security team at the moment?

UNIL agents, assisted by Securitas reinforcements, carry out rounds several times a day and at night throughout the site. In normal times, this helps to prevent the arrival of malicious individuals and to check the state of the buildings. This is still the case today. But now we also check that there are no gatherings and that the health regulations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), in particular the safety distance, are respected.

We also provide a phone hotline (021 692 20 00) which, after the sudden closure of UNIL, has enabled us to quickly set up a new management of access to the campus, for example, so that people can call us to pick up things needed for teleworking. Before Covid-19, we were receiving about 15 calls a day. This average has risen to 300 in recent weeks, but has fallen with the introduction of a new system: faculties and departments now provide us with schedules showing who is present, when and where. A control system which, along with that of compliance with health regulations, is now our priority.

Floriane Lavanchy, deputy head of the Safety team, from the Safety, Environment, Prevention department (UniSEP). Photo: Fabrice Ducrest © UNIL.

What do you use this information for?

It enables us to ensure traceability in the event that someone who has been on campus has tested positive for Covid-19. The purpose of our work is to ensure the safety of people. It’s important to remember that.

Since May 12, you have been distributing masks to the collaborators who work on the campus?

Employees who wish to do so can pick up masks (maximum two per person per day) at one of the four distribution points: the Genopod, the Biophore, the Anthropole and the Annexe de la Mouline where our offices are located. However, wearing a mask is not mandatory. Within the Security team, for example, we do not wear masks. But we always respect the safety distance recommended by the FOPH.

Have you ever been confronted with unauthorized individuals trying to enter or remain in buildings?

There are always one or two who try, but in general people are quite cooperative. I remember one student who was trying to get in to get his Campuscard validated at a terminal inside. We explained to him that this service is no longer available at the moment. From time to time, some students ask us to be able to take their things to prepare for their exams. In these cases, we accompany them to their locker and then to the exit.

The loan counters of the Internef and Unithèque libraries reopened on May 11th. How do you manage this situation?

It is now possible to bring back books and pick up orders, but not to stay to read or work. At the Internef and Unithèque, we have created a circuit to be followed with signaling tapes and markings on the ground every two meters to indicate the safety distance. Several Securitas agents are present to provide information and also to check that nobody is settling on the floors.

How do you see the next few weeks?

We don’t know exactly how things will develop, but the gradual reopening of the campus is underway. To accompany it, we will continue to adapt, as we have done since the beginning. Because in the end, this is part of our job.