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Knock, knock, who's there?

By Samantha Neudorf

Sophomore Jaclyn Cifuni heard a knock on her dorm room door one Saturday afternoon. Cifuni was lying in bed in Nassau/Suffolk and chatting with her roommate. They did not answer the door. Hofstra maintenance workers let themselves into Cifuni's dorm room and said that they had to check something in the room, even though she did not recall any problems in her suite. Cifuni described the two-minute visit as "really awkward."
Sophomore Angelina Ciaschi faced a similar situation. Ciaschi was lying in bed at 9:00 a.m. on the Friday before President's Day weekend and was startled by a knock on her bedroom door in Colonial Square. She was the only person present in the suite and did not answer the door. Three maintenance workers shortly let themselves into her room. They were sent to fix a closet door. Ciaschi did not recall any problems with her closet door.
Work orders are what generate maintenance work. They are forms that specify what kinds of issues need to be tended to across campus. But not all work orders are produced by students. Residential issues are filed through students or Residential Assistants and sent to the Office of Residential Programs. Residential Programs can also file work orders based on any complaints written on Room Condition Reports. Maintenance workers can let themselves into a dorm room as long as they knock and identify themselves. This is the policy, according to Joseph Barkwill, vice president of Facilities and Operations at Hofstra.
"Our maintenance staff enter rooms under a work order or for emergencies," assured Barkwill. "They don't just go in for routine checks," added Paul Romano, Associate Director of the Physical Plant at Hofstra.
The maintenance policy is to receive a work order, schedule a date and time with Residential Programs to figure out when the work will take place and to carry out the tasks. Scheduled visits to dorm rooms usually take place in the daytime, when students are not likely to be around. Maintenance workers are instructed to knock loudly and identify themselves. Students have the right to ask the worker to come back later if they enter at an inconvenient time if the situation is not an emergency. If not, maintenance workers let themselves into the room.
Students may not be notified if a required maintenance job must be completed. Small emergency maintenance jobs include fixing leaks, floods, and condensation from air conditioners and heaters. Any larger tasks such as painting require scheduling a time with the student.
If the student is not present in the room and work is performed, the maintenance worker leaves a door tag inside of the room. The worker is not to move or touch any personal belongings. They would return at a later time if moving any furniture or items were necessary.
"It [the door tag] is similar to hotels'," explained Romano. "Personal belongings would not be moved."
However, if a student does not choose to answer the door, it creates "an awkward moment for everyone," Barkwill stated, "It's embarrassing for personnel to walk in on students when they do not answer."   
"It's a Catch-22 type of situation," he continued, "There is a delicate line we have to maintain... if someone does not answer the door, we do not know. At least knocking and identifying is better. If there is a better way to coordinate with the student, we will."
 

An example of the door tags maintenance leaves after doing work in rooms. (Photo by Michaela Papa/ The Chronicleo)

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