It is the university’s responsibility to find solid ways to ensure students’ belongings are safe from potential campus employee theft.
A student who suspected his San Marcos Hall roommate was rifling through belongings decided to set up a motion activated camera, according to a Feb. 14 University Star article. Upon reviewing the tapes he filmed in the dorm last October, the student was surprised to find the culprit was actually a campus maintenance worker, in the room without his permission.
The student alerted theabout the incident. He then uploaded the recorded video onto YouTube in December, and it received thousands of views. The employee was terminated from the university, despite not appearing to take any of the student’s items in the video.
The department requires students to sign contracts in order to be granted permission to live in campus dorms. These contracts include a statement the department is not responsible for losses caused by theft or burglary. The contracts mention students “must permit any authorized agent of the university to enter the assigned unit for the purpose of inspection and maintenance.” Campus maintenance employees are able to access dorm rooms if there is a concern about safety of the students or if situations are likely to cause harm to others.
Emergencies do happen, and officials like resident assistants and directors deserve universal key access to dorms for these purposes. However, maintenance employees should not be able to enter bedrooms in dorms without the explicit permission of the student, even for repair or cleaning purposes. It is important students are able to control who comes in and out of their rooms.
If students are not present in their rooms, maintenance employees should only be allowed to do repairs or clean the common living room areas of particular dorms with these amenities such as San Marcos Hall. DHRL should have a consistent rule that only permits maintenance employees to complete work orders at particular scheduled times. This will ensure maintenance employees are kept from entering dorms at random times during the day where they may not be under a student’s watchful eye.
There have been numerous recent reports of theft in dorms, and many other instances have likely gone unreported. Although DHRL handled the situation with the student cited in the University Star article well, more must be done to combat theft in dorms. The university needs to set clear-cut rules for university housing employees to send the message that these issues are not going to be swept under the rug.
The university must set stricter rules and guidelines regarding maintenance employee roles and responsibilities. Greater supervising mechanisms should be put into place to ensure employees are performing their assigned duties correctly. If a shift leader or supervisor was placed in each building to keep close tabs on maintenance employees, a suspicious circumstance surrounding a potential theft could be prevented or discovered much earlier.
Students should feel their possessions are safe in a residence hall. It is concerning that the student mentioned in the University Star article felt like his possessions were violated without his permission. Students should not have to fear that their roommates or campus maintenance employees are taking or touching their belongings without permission. A common respect between roommates and university staff members and effort toward implementing stricter DHRL employee policies can help build trust in the minds of many students.