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May 27, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Misdeeds and Misleads

One week after Salient revealed a cleaner had been barred from a Hall of Residence after spying on students in the shower, Victoria has admitted a similar incident took place in 2009 at another Hall.

In 2009, a cleaner was removed from Weir House after similar incidents to those at Cumberland, allegedly placing a mirror under cubicles to watch students. Following the incident, Weir House residents were directed not to be in the same room as cleaners by Hall management.

Victoria University management had originally told Salient they were “not aware of any other incidents involving cleaning staff at Victoria Halls in recent years”, despite the Weir incident taking place less than four years ago.

“When looking into the question from Salient about other incidents involving cleaning staff at Victoria Halls, we considered the last two to three years. In that time there were no similar incidents,” said Associate Director of Student Accommodation Nick Merrett.

Like the incidents at Cumberland, the allegations at Weir House were dealt with by the company contracted at that time—a different company to the one currently contracted, OCS. The University was satisfied with the way in which the cleaning contractor at the time handled the issue, telling Salient the incident did not contribute to the change in cleaning contractor.

The Cumberland incident may play a part in whether OCS is re-contracted in future, says Manager of Contracts & Facilities Rebekah Procter.

“Previous working history with the University is one of many factors considered when assessing tenders and undertaking contract negotiations.”

OCS is currently investigating the Cumberland incident, but has not provided a timeline to Salient or to the University for when the investigation would be completed.

“OCS is very concerned about allegations made about a member of its cleaning staff. We take the safety and wellbeing of our client’s students very seriously,” said OCS Managing Director James Fletcher.

“Once OCS was advised of the allegations, we took immediate action and stood down the employee concerned. He was directed not to enter any Victoria University site and we are closely monitoring this.

“We are currently investigating the matter… Given that the investigation process is underway, we are not in a position to comment further.”

Campus Services Associate Director Rainsforth Dix told Salient the University is assisting the company with its investigation, “taking all necessary steps to ensure OCS has the information it needs”, Dix asserted.

In the meantime, Merrett assured students that modifications are being made to the Cumberland building by the University to ensure the same thing cannot happen again.

“Staff at all our Halls regularly check for any issues that have potential to affect student’s privacy and security, and also regularly ask students to let us know if they have any concerns.”

The University has re-emphasised the importance of student privacy and security to OCS, and is satisfied OCS understands the University’s expectations.


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