Yue Lin used to leave the dormitory door wide open, especially as summer approached. But now he has to keep reminding himself and his roommates to close the door.
“Somebody lost a laptop just two dormitories down from ours,” says the 22-year-old junior at Hainan University. “We are just being cautious.”
He has every reason to be. According to Legal Daily, of all campus crimes reported nationwide, 80 percent are thefts. “Most thefts on campus happen in dormitories,” reported the newspaper last week. Dormitory safety becomes even more of an issue on the verge of graduation season, so students had better stay sharp.
According to Haikou police, dormitory theft has been “rampant” in the last two months. In March alone, a dozen laptops were stolen at Hainan University, Hainan Medical College lost 11 laptops, and Hainan Normal University reported the loss of seven laptops and a camera.
Li Wei, police chief of Meilan district in Haikou, says that the concentration of valuable items in student dormitories makes them a primary target for criminal gangs.
“For thieves, students, who often let their guard down, are easy prey,” says Li.
Yue and his peers often leave their laptop on the desk and dormitory door ajar when chatting with friends in another dormitory or grabbing a snack outside. Yue says he is among a majority of students who don’t recognize the potential risk of living a “careless” life in their dormitory.
“We live in our dormitory as we live at home,” says Yue. “We don’t see any danger. But from now on I think we should stay alert.”
According to Tong Weihua, a law professor at Hainan University, it’s not only students that should be cautious. Colleges themselves need to introduce more security measures to minimize the potential risks.
“Dormitory management at some colleges is chaotic – people just come and go without their identity being checked,” says Tong. “Colleges can lower the risks significantly by including safety systems in the management of dormitories.”
The loss of property is negligible compared to the life-threatening danger of a fire.
Recently, Yin Jiachen, 20, a sophomore at the Beijing Institute of Technology, returned to her dormitory to smell burning plastic in the room. In the jumble of wires connecting computers, smartphones, and other electric appliances, Yin discovered that the cable for a water boiler was smoldering.
“I was in shock for a minute before I realized that I had to cut off the electricity in the room,” says Yin. “If I had come back only a bit later, the room could have been on fire.”
Preventing fires has been the top safety priority in dormitories for years, but it’s still the biggest hazard. Over weekend, fires erupted at dormitories in Bejiing, Ningbo and Wuhan, local newspapers reported.
Apart from suggesting that students avoid using heaters and similar appliances in their dormitory, many colleges are increasing the electricity load to prevent short circuits from happening.
“Colleges across Zhejiang province started upgrading dormitory facilities last year, such as installing air conditioners and heaters,” says Jin Chen from the Student Affairs Office at Zhejiang University. “This means students don’t need to buy heaters or other appliances that pose a safety risk.”
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