Police said they couldn’t take my case ‘because greater priority is being given to tackling other crimes’, and I haven’t heard back from campus security. They have footage of the perpetrator, because I provided them with a description and the exact timing of the incident so they could check the surveillance cameras. They also have the number plate and exact locations of where my and another person’s iPhone have been traced to in Schaerbeek, Brussels (not one of the safest places in Europe, to say the least). Writing it off as an unexceptional case, after which at least three more thefts occurred in the following weeks, is not going to cut it.

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‘Organised crime group operating at the university’

Organised crime groups from outside the university are responsible for several thefts on…

Why have more cameras on campus if you aren’t going to use them and act on a situation when it takes place? The fact that more security cameras are possibly going to be put up outside is in no way solution to the problem. First of all, security doesn’t look at the footage. I was told that only the night shift would check whether they could find anything relating to my case and that they would only pass it on to police if they were contacted about it. Secondly, as they noted themselves, people don’t want to be part of an Orwellian closed-circuit surveillance film,especially whilst secretly munching up on chocolate or shaking from all the coffee during a nine-hour study spree.

Let’s not get too materialistic though. I had an expensive iPhone I didn’t really need. Now I have the opportunity to perhaps be even more aware of myself and my surroundings. And this situation has provided an opportunity for discussion. Speaking to professors, student advisors and students in the past weeks, I started thinking: why does the university want to be open and what does that even mean?


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VVD Rotterdam asks questions about crime at Campus Woudestein

Citing rise in thefts at EUR, VVD Rotterdam wonders whether city’s public buildings are…

Promoting activities and events in university facilities to the general public sounds good. Promoting diversity and an international environment, I’m all for it. Promoting a peaceful environment in which people can develop their knowledge and skills, yes please!

But with regard to your own self-respect, you wouldn’t just open your doors and let anyone in without explaining what the aim is. Not to mention the fact that you can’t say you’re open at some times and not at others, as we saw with the student card checks during final two weeks of last academic year. Continuously being approached by someone wanting to check your ID just caused constant disruption to students during stressful exam periods. In my opinion, the university is unintentionally promoting a disheveled image with respect to its study facilities, showing little prestige and self-respect.

Take Codarts for example. This art school is very welcoming and open to the public, but it doesn’t allow everyone to access its library and facilities. Another example is Erasmus University College, which has stricter regulations about who can enter the building. And to be honest, we pay for these services – basic safety and sufficient quiet, warm study spaces should be standard and non-negotiable.

There should be helpful security people walking around campus, showing that they are present and attentive, not just sitting in a box near the parking lot. Perhaps the stewards who walk around in groups and scold you for parking your bike in an unfashionable manner could step up their game and be trained in general campus safety too?

The library and other spaces should be open to some extent, but there should be card access to actual study areas. Access points not only safeguard people from theft but also provide essential data in the case of fire or other emergency, so that officials know how many people were in the building. And perhaps we won’t need to go hunting around the library for a desk and chair if security stops unauthorised people from entering the buildings.

So, my question is: does something worse really have to happen first for people to act? Does the university want to be liable for that? For now, the university seems to be a perfect target for any kind of criminality, from petty thefts to, I guess, let’s wait and see.

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