Students worried about ‘intruders’ in Education City Residence Halls
Students at Suduq Hall, one of the five buildings in the Residence Halls at Education City, have raised serious concerns over intruders who have moved personal belongings in residents’ rooms, according to the hall’s Facebook group.
Students in the group complained of clothes and shoes being moved around, beds being lowered, blinds being opened, and lights being switched on when they returned to their rooms. Other students, who also commented on the Facebook group, spoke about seeing unaccompanied male workers in the Residence Halls.
The most serious allegation was that of one student reportedly seeing “one of the workers carry and analyse…(a) lady’s underwear outside the room and…show it to his friend”.
This issue is another in the series of incidents that have raised questions over the safety of women in Qatar. Doha News reported yesterday that concerns had been high as to the safety of women in the wake of the recent murder of Lauren Patterson, a teacher at Newton British School, and that of Jennifer Brown, a teacher at English Modern School last year.
While students were very vocal about their concerns on the Facebook group, few came forward to comment on the issue out of deference to the Residence Halls and the CDAs who were working to correct the issue, according to one student who asked not to be named.
Another student, who had come into her room to find her laundry basket and boxes moved, cited a different reason for wanting anonymity, saying, “I’m (under) a lot of stress with my academic work load and personal life, so I don’t want anymore mess with (the) new relations that I have made at Suduq”.
Their concerns over the safety and security however, have been voiced with the Housing and Residence Life staff.
“I can understand and appreciate student concerns with regards to their safety. However…using the word ‘intruder’ is largely unfair. When students sign their housing reports, they give us the permission to enter their rooms for maintenance. On a basic level, their contract allows us to enter their rooms for maintenance. When work is done, a female supervisor accompanies the male workers to the students’ rooms and stays there until the job has been done,” said Arooj Rana, a Housing and Residence Life Coordinator.
Students were recently told that prior to the start of the semester, the staff in charge of the halls had done a routine check of all the rooms to make a list of maintenance that had to be done. These issues were to be resolved over the course of the semester, and things were moved around in rooms wherein workers had come to fix things that needed attention. Moving things aside, if upon entering the room, the workers found that beds need to be lowered or raised, or that the room needed more light, they made changes to that effect.
Safety issues aside, students also felt that the presence of workers in their rooms unannounced was disconcerting.
“It happened to me once and I was definitely weirded (sic) out by it. I…think that there should be a new system in place like organising a time when I’d actually be in the room. Usually, there is a female manager who comes in with them which kind of makes it better, but I still feel like it’s an invasion of privacy,” said Ghina El Aker, a journalism junior at Northwestern University.
In response to the recent events, Rana said that the Housing and Residence Life team were trying to implement a new policy wherein no one would be allowed to enter the student’s room without a day’s prior notice. Under this new policy, students would also be informed when work in their room was completed.
Rana assured the students that the team was pushing for fast reforms, and hoped that the new policy would be in place in the next few weeks.
Even with the proposed changes however, some students are still unnerved by the incident.
“They apologised and said that they’d make sure that they wouldn’t do it again, but I don’t trust anyone. I guess I’ll stick to my plan of placing hidden cameras in my room,” said the student who had previously asked to remain so as to not jeopardise her new relationships in the dorms.
Photo Credit: Qatar Foundation Housing and Residence Life Facebook page