By: Nouran Allam and Yasmine Bassily
Students on campus and in the dorms say they have noticed a marked decline in housekeeping services as well as a surge in incidents of theft since the semester began.
Aya Abo Elenen, a political science senior and a dorm resident for four years, says her shoes went missing at the same time that a housekeeper was cleaning her apartment.
At first, the housekeeper denied taking the shoes when she was confronted by her manager.
“[The housekeeper] went to my room, brought my shoes and said she found them outside the apartment. The housekeeper was searched before she left campus and we found my silver ring, an eyeliner, lipsticks and 240 pounds. In addition to the blouse she was wearing, which belonged to another girl,” Abo Elenen said.
The housekeeper has since then been dismissed, Executive Director for Safety and Security Mohamed Ebeid confirmed.
Ahmed Ibrahim, a computer engineering freshman and a dorm resident for a year, has also reported some of his stored belongings going missing over the summer.
The Office of Residential Life (Reslife) allows residents to store their belongings in a number of storage rooms during the winter and summer breaks.
“The workers responsible for taking our things to the storage don’t take our boxes unless they are firmly sealed with tape and our bags closed and locked. That’s how I gave them my things to store,” Ibrahim said.
However, he found his boxes opened and missing some of his belongings.
He then led a detailed complaint with the University’s Security Office; however, no one has reached out to him yet.
According to the University’s policy, the maximum amount of reimbursement he can receive is EGP 300.
Student Union (SU) Representation Chairperson Omar Rezk told The Caravan that more than 10 theft cases in the dorms, labs and library have been reported to the SU in the past month, in addition to those that have been reported to the University.
“The Security Office would usually open investigations and exert appropriate efforts to find the stolen belongings. But in all of the cases, except one, the items were not found,” he said.
Ebeid told The Caravan that since the stolen property was recovered in all the reported cases, the Office for Safety and Security has not received any further complaints.
They have also introduced further measures to regulate the movement of workers.
Workers are now only permitted to enter or exit the campus through one gate and undergo intensive inspection by the Safety and Security Office every time.
OLD WOUNDS, NEW TENSIONS
Political Science graduating senior Viola Salib noticed how the new workers act differently around students, which made her largely uncomfortable.
“It’s just that we were very much used to the old cleaners. It was just more on a friendly basis, and we’d know them by the name. We were just more comfortable around them.”
According to Associate Vice President for Campus Services Noel Knille complaints are taken seriously, but students must first be willing to contact her.
“I want people to know that we’re listening to them, and that we appreciate it, and I want people to keep emailing us. Because we can’t help […] and we can’t make things better if we don’t have your observations,” Knille added.
“Anyone who we’ve received a complaint about, we’ve contacted the [housekeeping] company right away, and that person has been removed from campus,” Knille told The Caravan.
Some students have reportedly begun to notice the return of old housekeepers who worked in the on-campus dorms prior to the University’s decision to outsource services.
Dorms Housekeeping Manager Abeer Ibrahim said that the company contracted by the University rehired some of the old housekeepers.
“I think they are more safe for [the residents]. [They] are more used to seeing them and they are more friendly,” Ibrahim said.
“The company responsible for Reslife hired some of the better workers,” Knille added.
LACK OF CLEANLINESS
While the issue of dorm residents being comfortable around some of the old staff has been resolved, complaints persist about a decline in the quality of housekeeping services.
English and Comparative Literature senior Malak Nour says that the state of washrooms around campus is deplorable.
“There was Kleenex all over the place, near the sinks, and the bathroom floor had dirty water on it […] and it just looked awful. I’ve never seen any bathroom on campus looking that bad since I joined university,” she told The Caravan.
“It’s not the case that the workers didn’t have the time to clean it. They had no excuse to leave the bathroom in this condition for four hours.”