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Dinwiddy House break-in reveals inadequate student protection.

Khadija Kothia, BA History

An intrusion at Dinwiddy House has been described by SOAS students as “traumatic”, leading to revelations about the accommodation’s inadequate security staffing.

A man, said to be in his twenties, followed students into Dinwiddy House, SOAS’ undergraduate accommodation building at 3am on Sunday 14th October, chased two female students up the staircase whilst shouting sexual abuse, and attempted to enter another female student’s room. The intruder also reportedly set off the alarm, forcing all students to leave the building. Victims say that though they informed security of an intruder in the building, the situation was not handled and students were blamed by security for his entrance.

Following the incident, the company that owns the building, Sanctuary Students, failed to address the incident and emailed students with a warning about the risks of playing with fire equipment. Despite Sanctuary Students’ initial silence regarding the intrusion, the company told The SOAS Spirit that a “full review of the circumstances surrounding this incident is being carried out,” and reminded students to “keep the building secure by ensuring no-one is able to gain entry by following them.”

However, students have complained about the incompetence of Dinwiddy House security. One student described their presence as “close to being non-existent” and went on further to describe security as “rude” and guilty of not checking for student identity at the building’s entrance. Memes mocking the security guard’s sleeping habits at the building’s entrance have also been circulating on social media, suggesting that many students share this view.

Dinwiddy House is the primary accommodation building for SOAS undergraduates, housing over 500 students. The building is managed by Sanctuary Students, a company that manages numerous student accommodation buildings across the country, including SOAS’ postgraduate accommodation building, Paul Robeson.

“One of the intruder’s victims described the incident as ‘traumatic’, saying that she was sure that she would have been sexually assaulted.”

The incident on 14th October has created unease in the building. One of the intruder’s victims described the incident as “traumatic,” saying that she was sure that she would have been sexually assaulted. “The days following it, I would not be able to sleep properly, or I would not want to go to the kitchen alone, because I was scared someone would come in and harass me again.”

SOAS management has also told The SOAS Spirit that they are “very concerned” to hear about the unauthorised entrance, and have raised this matter themselves with Sanctuary Students and the students affected. They state that all those affected should contact the SOAS Advice and Wellbeing department.

Photo Credit: @soaskmeout

1 thought on “Dinwiddy House break-in reveals inadequate student protection.”

  1. This really doesn’t surprise me given that the manager Marjorie Duncan is completely unable to run a building safely she is a bully whose tyranny has caused staff
    To leave. Capable and caring staff she treats residents with contempt and assumes they all lie. Hopefully she will be removed and replaced with a considerate and capable replacement who truly
    HS concerns for
    The residents and not just herself

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