An investigation into aspects of campus security, which was carried out by The University Observer during the past week, was complemented by news of the arrest of a non-student on Thursday night. The individual in question was arrested by the Donnybrook garda force after the suspect broke into the Merville residences and managed to walk off campus with a student’s laptop in their possession.
Earlier that week, a reporter had managed to stage two robberies in the James Joyce Library, walking out of the building with another student’s laptop on one occassion and with another’s purse and i-Pod the following day. These incidents have brought a harsh reminder to students that their personal belongings are simply not safe in academic buildings, or in their on-campus homes.
What is particularly surprising about the library incidents is that the staged robberies took place in the middle of the afternoon, a number of weeks before exams when the library is almost at full capacity. Students seated around the vacant desk from which the items were taken observed our reporter, yet did not either question him or raise the alarm with library Services.
A desire not to interfere seems to prevail, however all the lecture notes, essays and examination preparation saved to a typical student’s laptop brings the cost of the already expensive product up quite considerably. It is a wonder why students do not appear concerned enough to simply question a student who carries away another’s property.
It is true that some students may need to become more aware of their surroundings and of the risk they take when they leave laptops or purses visible on an empty desk. Yet, at the same time, the question must be asked why no member of library staff blinked at a male student who entered on a female’s student card and walked out a number of minutes later with another’s personal property.
The same must be considered about those living in student residences, such as Merville. Only registered, UCD students should be able to gain access to campus accommodation and the fact that an individual who is not associated with the university was capable of walking into the building, and leave with a student’s computer surely suggests that the security practices that are in place severly failed at least on this occassion.
Perhaps the university’s plans to construct a security check-point at the entry to all of the campus residences in January will add to student safety. However the isolated attitudes that prevail on campus will have to change alongside the new construction work if these are to have any real effect.