By Romee Dekker
— Over the past few weeks, Amsterdam University College (AUC) has been suffering from a rash of thefts in and around the academic building (AB). As at least three laptops have been stolen in just the last month, several students believe the current security measures at AUC are far from sufficient.
Nasiba Sharipova, a third-year Social Science major, said her laptop was stolen just a day before Easter break. “The AB was nearly empty and thinking that no one would take it (…), I went to Spar to pick up some food,” Sharipova said. “When I came back about 10 minutes later, my laptop was gone.”
Sharipova was not the only one whose laptop got stolen. Pia Fabiola Rodriguez and Sarah Stapel, second-year Science and third-year Social Science majors, lost their laptops last month as well. “I left my bag in the canteen to get some soup,” Rodriguez said. “When I came back, my laptop was missing.”
All three students tried to find help at the reception when they noticed that their laptops were stolen, and all got a similar message. “I was told that the AB is a public area and that I shouldn’t have left my laptop unguarded,” Sharipova said. “When I asked to look at the camera footage, I was told that the cameras in the AB haven’t been functional for some time and that there was no camera footage available.”
A comparable story was told to Stapel. “[The reception] said that they couldn’t do anything and that the cameras have been broken for a while, which is what I found most annoying,” she said. “The cameras weren’t fixed even though they knew they were broken a month before, which is when another laptop got stolen,” Stapel said.
AUC is aware of the fact that several laptops got stolen. Chandani Peperkamp, receptionist at AUC, states that there is a false sense of security in the academic building. “Although it feels like a living room, this university is still a public building that anyone can enter,” Peperkamp said. “We know that there are small groups active both here and at UvA trying to steal personal belongings, but since this is still a public place, there is not much we can do.”
Peperkamp initially said that she could not comment on the security cameras’ functioning, yet did acknowledge that some were, and still are, defective. “Right now, some cameras are functional, and some aren’t due to technical issues,” she said. “However, the cameras are merely meant to be preventive, and policy regulations state that the footage will only be reviewed by security guards in severe cases such as fights or break ins, not for stolen MacBooks.”
Belinda Stratton, AUC’s managing director, acknowledged that two of the security cameras are currently not working and thus should and will be replaced. In addition, Stratton explained that most of the cameras actually monitor the entrances and the main public access routes and not the study areas.
According to Adele Beinaraviciute, member of the AUC Student Council, the fact that there are thus no cameras that face study areas is especially problematic. “Even if students are able to view the footage of the cameras that actually work, which is already complicated due to strict bureaucratic regulations, they are only able to look at footage of the entrances, but that is not where laptops get stolen,” she said.
Although the security cameras might be used as a preventive measure and are not always facing study areas, students still feel that the broken cameras need to be repaired. Jaap Boertje, AUC’s housemaster, explains that AUC has the responsibility to report broken cameras and keep an eye on the process of solving these technical issues. However, they are not responsible for actually fixing them. “I reported the malfunctioning security cameras to Facility Services on the 1st of March, as this company is responsible for repairing technical issues in the academic building,” Boertje said. Boertje’s request has been open for more than a month as confirmed by Facility Services, but so far, the cameras have not been replaced.
Nevertheless, Stratton, Beinaraviciute and Peperkamp all stated that fixing these cameras will not evaporate the rash of thefts in the academic building. “Students need to be aware of the fact that the academic building is a public place and thus pay extra attention to their personal belongings,” Peperkamp said. “If the possibility of theft is not created, we will all indirectly make the academic building a safer place.”
Photo Credits: CNET
Editor’s note: This news story is part of a collaboration between The Herring and AUC’s journalism course. The story was entirely reported, written, edited, and fact checked by members of the journalism course. Some material may have been altered by The Herring’s editors to fit its style guidelines.