Students in Fairfax house and Eric Milner A-block have voiced their concerns over current security levels after several burglaries have taken place in recent weeks.
Questions have been asked of the University over the lack of CCTV cameras in the two blocks and on the effectiveness of the security locks on windows with several laptops and MP3s being stolen from shut windows.
Alex Beever, a first-year Physics student living in Fairfax House, described how thieves broke into his room by getting, “a screwdriver and forcing the bar on the window open and hooking the latch up and climbing in.”
Beever said he was certain there weren’t security locks on his windows when he arrived, describing how his window would open fully.
He added: “The University has acknowledged that we want it [CCTV] but they haven’t done anything about it….we are off campus, we’re on a main road, [it’s] something that needs to be done.”
Fairfax House is off the main campus on Heslington Road and therefore more isolated than other accommodation blocks.
Beever commented that he found it strange, “even with there being problems with theft on Heslington road for ages they [the University] still haven’t thought to put any (CCTV) in.”
“The University has acknowledged that we want it [CCTV] but they haven’t done anything about it“
Fred Nathan, a member of the Fairfax committee, made it apparent that even though the University’s response may be because they cannot afford CCTV on campus they should make an exception for Fairfax House.
Nathan stated that the premises has been, “routinely broken into in the last ten years since becoming part of the University”.
Following the break-ins in Eric Milner, Georgina Heath, the Vanbrugh College Administrator, sent out an email claiming that the laptop “was taken through the window after the window was left unlatched when the resident went out.”
Alice Ogdon and Conor Chong were angered by the comment as the layout of Eric Milner is such that there are three female students isolated at the end of the corridor, a vicinity without any security protection.
Ogdon added that: “It was like they were trying to make out it was my fault. I never said to the security people I left the window unlatched, they just assumed.”
One of the students, Racheal McIver, a first-year English and History of Art student, explained that the combination of being on “the ground floor, on the corner and near the bridge” makes it a vulnerable location, yet despite this, “we have no key card on our bit of the hall, no code, there’s nothing, there’s literally nothing.”
Kallum Taylor, Vanbrugh JCRC Chair commented: “I do think the University can and should up its game on security.
“Since 24 hour porters has gone in some colleges, I don’t think a strong enough case has yet been made to say that security, or support for security, has increased enough to make up for this loss.”
However, a University spokesman stated: “Since 1 January 2010, there have been four cases of theft/burglary reported to Security, one of which was this year. The burglary this year was of a room whose door had been left unlocked and window unsecured.
“CCTV on its own doesn’t stop crime. Students should ensure that they are vigilant at all times and they make sure their rooms are locked and secure when they are not in residence.”
Laura Borisovaite, YUSU Welfare Officer, commenting on the security issues said that: “Security is paramount to the safety and well-being of students and the Security Services have to ensure that measures to keep students and their belongings safe are frequently updated.”