On the night of Tuesday the 24th October, residents of Passfield were evacuated on two separate occasions due to unscheduled fire alarms, arriving back to their rooms with at least two cases of stolen property. The two fire alarms were set off at midnight and at 3am, the latter described as “malicious” in a halls email to residents the following day. The result: students arrived to their early morning classes frustrated, sleep-deprived, and worried about their stolen property.
The fire alarms were thought to be set off by guests at Passfield and not the residents themselves. In the two weeks since, two emails have been sent to students at Passfield. The first detailed the evacuations and guest policies. The second requested information from residents about the ‘guests’, “two men and one woman” who “left the building, breaking the fire alarm glass panel by the front door”.
One robbery victim of Passfield commented: “The fire alarm by itself was awful enough, but to be exploited further after that was even worse… I felt very disorientated as well since I struggled to remember anything about the actual fire alarm.” Over £70, an oyster card and a laptop have been reported stolen so far.
A spokesperson from LSE’s Residential Services has given a statement saying that “hall staff quickly passed on reports of thefts to the police and are helping with their enquiries. Students are reminded that they are responsible for the conduct of any guests invited into the hall and failure to take responsibility will result in them being in breach of their licence agreement.”
Upon request, the newly elected President of Passfield Hall’s committee has stated: “the safety of our residents and their possessions remains and always will be the committee’s top priority. The hall has recognised the need for a robust and comprehensive review of our sign-in policy for visiting guests at Passfield Hall, and this is currently underway.” The new sign-in procedure is likely to involve presentation of a form of ID and the provision of additional information. This data “would be stored”, he says, “for the purpose of contacting the guest if damage was caused to the property.”
“More generally than fire alarms, visitors are often the source of damage at Passfield,” the warden stated in the first email sent to students. “Last year there was major vandalism in the common room attributable (we think) to visitors. But as it was not possible to identify the culprit, all residents had to be charged common costs as damages under the contract. We also think that major vandalism in the dining hall last year was attributable to visitors.” While residents are responsible for their guests, the whole hall is subject to the financial consequences of damages when investigations are inconclusive.
The impact of the event is tangible: a more self-aware hall, afraid their belongings and their environment are at greater risk. This is not a reflection of the residents or Passfield staff, but an unfortunate incidence of disrespect.