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August 13, 2007 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Former Helen Lowry resident accuses hostel of privacy invasion

Hostel tries to cover up by hating on Salient

A Victoria student and former Helen Lowry resident has spoken up about an incident which he believes was an invasion of privacy.

The student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, moved out of the hostel after deciding the hostel “wasn’t right” for him. He was violating the terms of his contract by moving out before the contract’s end, but agreed to continue the $180 weekly payment until someone else moved in.

The student believes that despite not living in the room, the fact he was still paying for the room entitled him to leave items in there, until the room was filled. The student also says hostel management did not ask him to return his key.

When someone else became interested in occupying the room, a Residential Assistant entered the student’s room to check it and proceeded to read a piece of creative writing that was left amongst the possessions. The RA found the creative writing to be what Helen Lowry Warden Janine Arcus described as “concerning”, and showed the creative writing to Arcus as well as a counsellor for “advice”. The student told Salient that upon arriving at Helen Lowry to clear out his remaining belongings, Arcus questioned him about his mental health and wellbeing. “I was shocked,” the student said. “It is quite unnerving knowing someone read something so personal.”

The student says some of his creative writing content is “kind of dark, I guess”, but says it is purely fictional and written “for personal reasons, not for exhibition.”

Arcus told Salient that the student had “confided in Helen Lowry management” and that “in light of that he told us it justified the RA showing a senior manger and counsellor for advice.” Arcus said she felt “uncomfortable” telling Salient the conversations that “alerted Helen Lowry to his state of mind”, as she felt that would violate the student’s privacy. However, the student denies ever confiding in the management of Helen Lowry. “I have no idea what they are talking about… it sounds like they are just covering their arses because they know they screwed up.”

Lawyer Graeme Edgeler says there would have had to be “extreme circumstances” to justify the reading of the creative writing in the first place, and believes the incident could be a breach of confidence. Edgeler says the hostel should have policies in place to avoid this type of incident.

The student insists neither his writing nor behaviour are health or safety risks. “Writing something dark does not mean I’m at risk, it’s called an imagination,” the student says.

Despite telling Salient they were aware the student was still paying for the room and storing belongings there, Helen Lowry told the University’s Accommodation Service the items in the room were abandoned possessions.

Acting University Accommodation Manager Lesley O’Cain describes the RA’s reading of the writing as “an unfortunate natural human impulse”, who says the incident was “an unfortunate misunderstanding.”

O’Cain defends Helen Lowry’s actions, saying “the student’s writing and [the] enquiry into his state of mind were handled confidentially.” Arcus responded with hostility to Salient’s enquiries saying, “I hope you know Salient isn’t a well-respected publication among students.”

Helen Lowry management were reluctant to talk to Salient, as they believe the magazine paints hostels in a bad light.

Salient’s hostel reporting has included the delayed completion of EdPac-owned hostels Southern Cross and Vic Central, which meant students had to live for weeks in backpackers’ hostels in 2005 and 2004.

In 2005 Salient reported that the St George common room ceiling collapsed following a storm, and mushrooms were discovered growing in Cumberland, where seven of the ten rooms on the top floor had been flooded from ceiling leaks.

In 2003, Salient reported on an outbreak of bedbugs and scabies at Unicomm.


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  1. Tory Heming Chandler says:

    This is so typical of Janine! I was at HLH last year and she made my life hell. She is a liar who manipulates situations and people to her advantage. Not only did one girl leave the hall and drop out of uni after two weeks at the hall, but Janine then continued to try and get me and my room mate to leave. In a two week period i had 10 ‘meetings’ with and threatened to kick me out in almost all of those meetings. She turned other residents against us and tried to fire me from my job in the kitchen. At one point she tried to make me move rooms and even rang me at work (a different job) to tell me i had to move out and once i told her i was at work she told me she would get the DWs to pack and move my stuff. I told her i didnt want anyone else touching my stuff and she simply said “thats fine. The DWS will pack and move your stuff and we will charge you for it”

    Something needs to be done about HLH, but more importanly Janine Arcus.

  2. HLH Hater says:

    Helen Lowry wasn’t the greatest time of my life. Far from it. I was accused of being an alcoholic after seen coming home in the early hours of the morning after a night out. Surely a gal can go out and let her hair down without being judged?!

    Janine gave me very dirty looks when I had a male mate stay. He is gay ffs!!! And that shouldn’t matter! I was made to clean the lounge because Janine thought I had made a mess there, even though I wasn’t even in Wellington the weekend it supposedly happened.

    Her attitude stinks. Basically if you are not a Christian that goes to church every sunday and hangs out with only people from church or the hall you are not only an outsider but the scum of the earth. Religion is a big part of my life, but it is personal and I choose to live my life a little different to how Janine saw fit.

    She threw out a mates pornography, which had been sent to him in the mail, yet it didn’t even know it had arrived. Someone must have opened it to discover what was inside…Can anyone say invasion of privacy?!

    I do not recommend the hall to anyone. Janine will make your life hell unless you are Asian or a stereotypical christian.

  3. Tory Heming Chandler says:

    Hahaha yeah! A group of people were drinkin, two people were drunk, christians, so Janine told me (a non christian) that i had a problem and needed alcohol counselling!!! I had only had a few drinks and was far from drunk!!!

  4. Jase says:

    Janine is a nutter, I cant believe she hasnt been ousted yet. I was there in ’05 and managed to stay out of her crosshairs, but she caused several of my friends extreme distress by accusing them of being alcoholics/drug addicts/whores etc…

  5. If anyone has a hostel-hell story they want to share with Salient, you can contact me via email at

  6. Claire says:

    That sounds typical of the invasion of privacy I have encountered at Victoria University as I have been the subject of harassment in regard to being accused of waliking out of an exam, in 2005 and had a “psych team” called on me that have been harassing me for over two years, after some goon in the IT department followed me to a cafe at the Harbour City Center after I had completed the requirements of my exam and left when it was practiable to do so. I am against the use of psych drugs and a promotor of alternative health and traditional chinese medicine.

    I have been accused of an affliction of ADHD by disagreeing with a GP’s opinion that I have addressed through the correct channels and I am a merited A student that transfered here from a another university and had an encounter with a staff nurse there who informed everyone that I was a crazy person and I had been a student there for over 10 years and violated my civil rights. I have been called “victim”, yelled at and told to “take my pill” and hassled while going about my private business. I have been followed into shops, restaurants, employers, anywhere by some derranged individuals that call me “psych” in which I am certainly not. I have screamed aatnd told to “break down”, called “ugly”, “to spilit up my relationship”, coerced, exploited and harassed all over Wellington for my choice of ethnic partner.

    Any do-gooder that invades the privacy of a student claiming that they have a mental illness or a strange affliiction of some sort should seek legal advice not put up with the sorry excuses of this kind of bottom feeding.

  7. hlh prospective attendee says:

    Holy cow, Has anyone noticed no-one can say anythin nice bout this Janine nutter???
    At least we who may have been interested can stay well clear now :-s

  8. HLH '05 says:

    I have to say, HLH isn’t a bad hostel… the lounge and games room are a pretty decent set up.. the rooms are dry and warm..ish… 2/7 meals a week are edible.. the distance to uni is a bit crappy but… it’s cheaper than other halls..
    With new management it would be acceptable I suppose.
    As it is… “Living at HLH is like living in a living nightmare!!”
    Janine has some serious issues and makes life difficult for probably the majority of people at the hall.

    I spoke with a few HLH international students about Janine and they expressed pretty much the same issues that myself and my group of friends of the hostel were experiencing. They thought it was only international students that she treated that way. I thought it was only people with similar beliefs or whatever as myself. I’d suspect that there would be similar concerns in the christian camp to some degree.
    So everyone is being victimised, but everyone thinks they’re isolated. A clever play in Sata… Janines psychopathic chess game of mind fucky doom and destruction.
    If only we had all banded together and held a protest (riot), torn that place to shreds and burned the bitch at the stake…

    Thats not a death threat, just a personal fantasy :)

    To any prospective HLHers, give it a go… it’s a pretty crazy trip

  9. Michael says:

    Wow, I hope Salient nails this bitch to the wall.

  10. Amy says:

    Wow I was thinking of picking that hall as one of my choices….but no way, not now! Thanks everyone for the truth.

  11. HLH 2007 says:

    i have had a shit time this year. no onl;y did i have my privacy invaded i was also judged for being a smoker. so what i smoke im not hurting anyone and i obeyed all the rules. janine went into my room without notice while i was on holiday and then complained about the mess in my room. hello!!! rude one aye its just not on. she is a nice person on the outside. we never know if she is sincere or not because she has two different personallities. dont bother telling your parents she acts very nice when parents are invovled. its like the hall from hell. but the building is great the residents are lovely and it is peacefull. get new management

  12. Evee says:

    be quiet you smoker

  13. HLH selfcatered says:

    Ive been living in the selfcatered unit of helen lowry and my experience has been absolutely shit. It started when the walls started growing mould. yes.. the entire wall was covered after a few weeks! it got to a point where my room was so bad i couldnt sleep in it, i ended up sleeping in the lounge. I got mushrooms growing in that same room. I caught ten times as many colds in 6 months as i had in the entire last year. When i called Janine she managed to turn it around and basically say that it was my fault it was so mouldy, that i should wipe down the damp area’s every morning and open my window (which i did) … but i was also meant to wipe whole fucking wall?!? even so it wouldnt make that much of a difference.
    When we first moved in we were promised our rooms would be recarpeted (because the crappy mouldy condition they were in) within 2 weeks. They completed this task last week. 6 friggin months later!!!
    There has been a number of times when our privacy has been completely breached. Janine and other staff have waltzed on into our flat without even knocking! let alone giving some kinda warning… she walked on into one of the other residents here’s room while he was asleep one morning, and there was another case when one of the staff walked in on someone in their towel.
    Proceeding one of these unannounced visits she sent us a letter telling us how appallingly messy the flat was. I do admit it was not in the best state, but if we had had some warning it would have been an awful lot better! shes now telling us how we have to remove everything from the walls because its a fire hazard. These are things on fucking damp cinder block walls! shes also saying how we cannot keep any personal belongings in the lounge or bathroom of our three person flat, as these are communal areas.
    Occasionally Janine might have a slightly valid point but the way she treats you is absolutely shit! she is incredibly condescending and treats you like a child, she also manages to turn everything around to make it all your fault.
    I was quite keen on HLH at the start of the year. There are some really awesome people there and i have to admit the price is good. But everything has been ruined because of Janine. Kicking her out would be the best thing for everyone!!

  14. doornob says:

    what the fuck are you all moaning about…….society invented rules for a reason… you break the rules there are consequences. y moan about stuff you have brought on yourselves.
    the hall is not a Christian hall, and it has no bearing on the management, if it did everyone accepted would be Christians, your just trying to pick holes in stuff. when i was there i had no problems with the management, even tho i used to get wasted every weekend.
    i have been to stay with friends at the other halls and they were gayer. if you wanted to come to uni to get pissed out of your tree then dont go to Helen lowry, its more for those who want to pass there fukin degrees.
    If you decide not to apply to the hall cos of peoples overly bias comments above then your stupid., there is nothin rong wid da place, the food is gay but hay its what all the halls get.
    so yeah whateva

  15. Michael Oliver says:

    The educated thoughts of “doornob,” ladies and gentlemen.

  16. oncebeliever says:

    I was once a believer in the good of living at Helen Lowry Hall. That was when I was on my first year there, back in the days where I was a good little christian girl. While I was a good christain girl I didn’t have a single problem, I hated the food just like everyone else but I never got into trouble for anything. Janine was always nice to me then. None of the people who were christian or had declared that they were of a christian background ever got into trouble with Janine. I avoided problems that first year but made the fatal mistake of going back for a second. In my second year I had problems with Janine almost constantly for about 6 months. Many of my problems arose because Janine was having issues with some of my friends(one of whom is Wicca) and decided to pull me into the battle. She asked me to try and ruin the friendship of two people I am good friends with. She threatened to call my mother and put me on a final warning because I got drunk once(during my entire time living there!) even though I hadn’t had any warnings before then. I know that the apparent policy of calling parents to inform them of drunkeness wasn’t real because she never called the parents of my friend who had his stomach pumped. She would repeatedly complain that those of us who worked in the kitchen didn’t work fast enough or that we never did our jobs properly. I had many situations where I was in bed with my door locked and was awoken by someone unlocking the door without having knocked first and on one occassion when I called out that I was in there and they were not to enter they continued to do so. In general Janine was nasty to 50% of the people I knew at the Hall and very few of the people I know who have been there would even consider recommending it to prospective students. Anyone who wants to have a good living experience when they first leave home should avoid HLH as though it were the Black Plague until Janine is replaced.

  17. unidentified says:

    if it is so bad y do over 40% of the people staying in first year return? from what ive been told the majority who return arnt christian? A mate of mine who was christian a few years ago always got in trouble with her….

  18. hellow says:

    Helen Lowry has a 37 percent return rate not an “over 40 percent” return rate.

  19. Michael Oliver says:

    Regardless of everything else, if there is tangible evidence to back up the accusations in this report, then an investigation (officially, or by way of genial nosey-parkering on the part of Salient), should take place.

  20. passed resident says:

    I was a student at helen lowry hall in 2005. I think that the comments made above are really unfair. It is one thing to let your hair down and have a good time…I think that was always accepted at helen lowry-I had a great time… but it isn’t o.k to disturb everyone around you, break all the rules…and then blame getting in trouble on the religion of the hostel manager. I think some people just need to learn to respect others, and take responsibility for their own actions.

  21. anne wan ouse says:

    You know, this hardly needs saying but heres another 06 hlh to coroborate all thats been said. I stayed under her radar (despite being alot more of a drunk than many of those she gunned for) but I think i regret moving to hlh more than anything else i’ve done in the last two years. And I have made alot of mistakes believe me. This is perhaps harsh since I also made some good friends there, but you know there are good people who dont happen to live in a Stalinesque wasteland. Just say no people, the savings in cash are not worth the price in sheer stasi-style mindfuckery. Should never have listended to my careers councillor- i knew they called him “Mad Max” for a reason. Maybe he gets a comission. Id be curious to hear what the current hlh first years think of the matter.

  22. 06 hlh resident says:

    I had a great time at HLH in 06! If you don’t cause trouble then of course you won’t get IN trouble. And I wasn’t christian! The thing is, the people who have gripes with Janine are the kinds of people who cause trouble and then aren’t willing to admit they’ve done things wrong. Janine obviously represents authority at the hall as she is the head warden. People don’t like her because they don’t want to have to live under rules, they just want to do whatever pleases them and screw anybody else. If you can’t learn to be responsible for your actions and you can’t get along with people who set rules, then good luck in the real world cos you’re gonna have a tough time.
    Rules have to be applied in a community to keep everyone happy and safe.
    I’d like to see how well anyone else does at being the manager of a hostel, it must be really tough.
    Honestly people, grow up and get over your petty little grudges. Of course Janine isn’t perfect, she is human JUST like you are and I think a lot of these accusations are unfair. The only times Janine ever talked with me harshly was when I deserved it for something I’d done.

    I understand that the deputy wardens (who are my friends) there this year handled the situation with this resident and the piece of writing properly. They didn’t want to cause trouble, they were generally concerned for this young man’s wellbeing and for the safety of the other students in the hostel.

    And as for Tory Heming Chandler’s comment at the top of the page… the girl she mentions who moved out after only a few weeks did so because Tory and her roommate were bullying her.

  23. kate says:

    Janine is controlling and completely unprofessional. Those that deny obviously havent had experince with her ways. Its not what she does its how she does it.

  24. Luce says:

    I wonder if all those who are moaning and whining bout Janine have ever had to run a hostel of over 100 students and diff students every year. Could any of you learn all the names and be in charge of their welfare…i think not! Janine does pretty well under the circumstances, sure she makes mistakes but dont we all? Like someone said above the other hostels are way worse! THey dont give second chances, unlike hlh which gives chance after chance! Do you get kicked out of hlh for being sick in the coridoor-no u get charged but other hostels often kick u straight out. It is true wot doorknob said above, the only ones complaining are the ones who disobeyed the rules or were bullies, the easy going nice students were fine! As for the Christian/non-christian thing man everyones got it completely WRONG! I myself and christian and got called into the office more than once, i wasn’t favoured, nor are any other chrisitans. Everyone who is dissing Janine or the hall on this forum, move on and get a life! It’s a great place.

  25. Luce says:

    this advert paid for by Janine

  26. Luce says:

    Like i said, the person who copied my name, move on and get a life! U obviously don’t have one if you are that petty!

  27. Luce says:

    paid for by Janine

  28. I am currently staying at HLH this year. I have never had any personal incounters with her, however the things that she has done around the hall have been unprofessional and unnecessary.

    We were told that we needed to take down all of the paper that was on our doors down the hallway which has eight residents living down it. The paper was there in the first place due to a ‘door decorating’ competition organised Janine. We were told that it was a fire hazard!. The paper was a a very bare minimum and we are in a concrete block building. Coming from a fire brigade background I know something about this and it was not a fire hazard in any way. What about all of the paper that she had put up in the dining room RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO THE KITCHEN!!!!!!

    She has had encounters with a few of my friends and has made things hell for them, adding stress to their lives and making them want to leave the hall.

    I also had mould growing on my carpet due to the buillding… there is a huge amount of mould on walls in the bathroom. Looking around the hall it seems to be that Janines solution to this is to ‘paint over it’. The rooms in the concrete buildings are NOT warm and the heater turns off every 30mins, requiring you to have to turn it on again…

    Janine every said herself that it is the residents that make it a nice place. Without the residents this place would be shit!.

    Oh… and don’t expect to get Jelly for dessert… Janine thinks it is for kids.

  29. ex-resident says:

    as a response to the comment by ’06 hlh resident’ that the only poeple who get in trouble are the ones that cause trouble – i never caused problems for anyone in the hall, when i drank i did so quietly or away from the ahll and when i came home from drinking i went to bed, without being rowdy or annoying to those who were sleeping, and i paid the price the following day. On one such occassion, when i went elsewhere, did my drinking and came home and went straight to bed, Janine decided that myself and the others who had been drinking were trying to lead the other students down a dangerous path and that we were endangering their future by drinking with them. I never caused problems but I was put straight on a final warning because of a single night where nothing bad happened – and i have witnesses to that fact.

  30. HLH 2003 says:

    I lived in HLH in 2003. Its true Janice Arcus is a manipulative, two faced horrid woman. She keeps on telling everyone that they need counselling but I reckon she’s the one who needs real therapy. The first few weeks in HLH are usually fun and she appears to be a caring person you her fake smiles and motherly hugs but after that she’s starts her games -picking on people and by the end of the year she makes majority of the resident’s life miserable. She’ll have her group of favourites whom she’ll treat differently and possibly groom them to be her Deputy Wardens. If you are a Deputy Warden and you go against her in her manipulating mind fucking games that she plays on majority of the residents and invading people’s privacy then she’ll be make your life miserable. She blackmails people. In 2004 HLH had 2 cooks who left and I’m sure there are more incidents. People employed by HLH often quit because of how horrid Janine is to them. But when it comes to greeting the parents of the residents, Victoria Officials and the trustees of HLH she’ll put on her charm and gives a fantastic performance of being a friendly, motherly soul. I can so relate to all the complaints. She does favour clean–cut Christians till an extent but even if you are a clean-cut Christian but don’t agree to her immoral, illegal ways (privacy) she’ll be after you. If you don’t agree to her horrible ways and views on how your life and other people’s lives should be lead then she’ll e make your life miserable whether you are a Christian or not, drinker /smoker or not, A+ student or E student. As for privacy, she has a diary in her office which deputy wardens are suppose to write down stuff about residents. She justifies it by saying that it helps her to keep an eye on people but does she really need to know who’s having sex with whom, whose gay or not etc. It none of her damn business. She’s a sad woman who needs to get a life of her own.

  31. Lady Shadow says:

    Momma Janine is an interesting woman. I thought she was fine, until we caught each other picking flowers and ‘removing them from others enjoyment.’ I forget when the complaints about my zealous kitchen cleaning began; I thank the three chefs (we went through a few that year) who backed me up. After that, the depression of a close friend and the heavy hints that I was mentally unwell. I was accordingly sent to Janine’s favourite DW for ‘counselling.’ This ‘counselling’ ended badly. (First winter away from home in a cold, wet city. If you are feeling down during exams you are perfectly normal. Trust me). It took me a long time to realise that other people weren’t opening my mail accidentally. In fact, other people’s mail wasn’t pre-opened at all. By the time I told Momma-J about my neighbour rifling through my underwear, she decided I was inventing the story for attention. (In conjunction to my underwear, he was developing a nasty reputation for touching female students too). I appreciate the Deputy Wardens who knew me better – and who those who told me what Janine was up to.

  32. T says:

    “And as for Tory Heming Chandler’s comment at the top of the page… the girl she mentions who moved out after only a few weeks did so because Tory and her roommate were bullying her.”

    That is bullshit. We were friends with her, Janine was the one that caused the problems, telling her we had said things we didnt, and tellin us she had said things she didnt. When we sat down to talk without Janine, all was fine. If you put Janine in the situation she made up stories. She is a psychotic compulsive liar! She told my roommates mother that i wanted to move out but was too scared to tell my roommate, which was bullshit.

    There are always gunna be people who dont see the problems with HLH, those are the ones that havent seen Janines bad side. I will admit, my first half year in the hall was great, i really enjoyed it. Janine was nice to me, altho she did treat one of my friends appalingly. But in second year she treated me terribly. I didnt go around breaking rules and doing the stuff she said i did. I was working two jobs and uni, i simple didnt have time to do all the stuff she accused me off. Janine likes to make up stories and create drama

  33. Anon says:

    I lived in HLH and cant believe all this shit about Janine. No im not christian, no she does not care whether you are or not. The only people that had problems with her were people who had problems in general.

    She is one of the best people to run a hostel. She genuinely cares about ALL of the residents, and is in no way “out to get” anyone. The hall repeatedly gave people chances if there were problems. HLH is for people who want to succeed and have fun while acheivig. The rules are there to be followed to make sure everyone can have a safe environment to achieve academically.

    I do recommend the hostel to anyone considering it.

  34. Katie Parkinson says:

    …Mike Lowwwwry!

  35. 09 resident says:

    Oh no…. I’m moving in in two weeks and I have no idea who to believe!

  36. Sando says:

    Poor resident. A hostel is only useful as a way to make lots of friends with an arbitrary thing in common to you. Like sharing a form room at school, or a cervical cancer support group. I suggest you move out after first simester and take up flatting with some randoms, that way you get the best and worst of both worlds.

  37. Wee Hamish says:

    Helen Lowry’s gonna eat you up

  38. previous resident says:

    I stayed at HLH for a year, and had my fair share of shit from Janine! You should have see how she treated Simba the cat, who passed away in 2005ish. I can’t believe they’re still running the hostel! When we first moved in she was all nice but every now and then you catch her with this impatient look then as the year progresses she only talked to ppl who did things “her way” and pretty much ignored everyone else. First I thought it was menopause, coz it makes women moody, but apparently no! She has always been like that and is still like that! I feel soooo sorry for the freshmen who are staying there. Uni is a great experience, dont let anything ruin it! Be brave and focus on study and other beautiful things in life, you’ll be out of that hell hole in no time!

  39. Gordon from Glasgow says:

    Ima goin ta come shit on yer bed.

  40. Sando says:

    Note to potential Helen Lowry residents:
    Gordon is serious, and as an R.A he has access to all of your rooms, shitted in or not.

  41. current student of hellllll-en says:

    im here now sitting in my cold prison cel room theres mold on my roof and my dehumidifire was taken off me as it is a fire risk, my curtains have holes in it!

    not only that but it 138am and i on here bitching about this shit hole as Janine just yelled abuse at me across the a block courtyard as i was making too much noise when in fact i am sober as fuck and just woke up after falling asleep while watching a movie in a mates room.

    just dont come here its not worth it you cant even leave
    with all the fucking loop holes in your contract!

    the only good thing is the food has improved which isnt much but compared to last year and all the other shit around here is amazing!!!

    i look foward to going to uni everyday casue Janine is only around from 10 – 2 during the day and then like 9-12 sometimes 3am just to fuck you off
    right noe shes in the office and yest its like almost 2am WHAT THE FACT

    we think she has cameras and microphones

    you can tell when they go into your room
    they move paper on your desk and locked your door as they leave when you know dam straight when you left to uni you left it unlcoked with your key on your desk and then your charged 50 dollars for them to unlock your room

  42. Shitkicker McGee says:

    Uhh told you so?

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