Employees’ right to enter residences should be examined

By The Collegian Staff


When is it all right for Butler University’s maintenance and housekeeping staff to enter your place of residence on campus?

This is a question students might answer differently.

The majority of The Collegian staff believes Butler needs to institute a different system for allowing the school’s maintenance workers into residences.

When a repair is needed in a room, students can inform the front offices of their respective residences. Those in charge can then send this request for repair to Maintenance or Building Services, depending on the issue.

Students can also file a request through Fix My Butler at my.butler.edu.

Donald Borden, maintenance system coordinator, said work orders in Maintenance Services are created starting at 7 a.m. each day.

When maintenance technicians go to rooms to fulfill orders, Borden said the workers are instructed to knock three separate times, announcing who they are each time. With the third knock, maintenance technicians are permitted to unlock residence doors and enter.

This practice is backed up in the Butler Student Handbook, which states, “Rooms also may be entered by authorized University [sic] personnel to complete maintenance and repair work.”

“We never really go into a space unless there’s a request,” said Gerald Carlson, maintenance services director. “We don’t just go and show up and look around to see what needs to be done.”

The same system is followed by Building Services, which deals with housekeeping and furniture-related requests versus repairs, said Dick Hamm, housekeeping and building services director.

The idea that a worker can enter a residence whenever a work order has been filed might be disconcerting to some students.

In a room housing multiple students, one person might request a repair and not tell his or her roommates. This can create the uncomfortable situation of other roommates suddenly having a Butler employee knock on their door when they least expect it.

Some students may not hear a worker knock—for whatever reason—or they may not be able to actually respond to the worker’s request to enter. When the worker does not realize this and then enters the room, students may become worried or angered by the intrusion.

Not all students will feel comfortable with a stranger—albeit one intending to help them—entering their rooms at a random time of day either.

“I think everyone understands if we’re there to repair something it is to their benefit to let us repair it, so they have use of that thing,” Borden said.

The idea of a system being instituted that would inform all roommates of an intended repair or change is something both Borden and Hamm said they would support.

“I don’t see that hampering our duties or anything like that,” Hamm said.

What might be more concerning to students is the idea of a Butler employee entering their residence when no one is there.

While Butler more than likely runs extensive background checks on its employees to ensure only the highest quality individuals are being hired, some students may not like the idea of their personal belongings being exposed to an unknown Butler employee.

Both Borden and Hamm said their employees must access keys to student residences through an access-controlled electronic keybox, and the keys are always secure.

Butler could try to create a system wherein students and maintenance or housekeeping employees work together to schedule times when the student could be present at the residence for work to be done.

When students fill out housing information online each spring, they could simply be offered the option of whether or not they would like to schedule any service orders that come up.

Right now, students only know their requests for repairs or work are typically fulfilled within two weeks of the request, according to the Butler Student Handbook.

Borden said it would be “fatal” to the maintenance system to try and schedule all work orders around students’ schedules.

“Trying to meet up those windows of availability with the student and technician would just be impossible,” Borden said.

While Maintenance and Building Services both do their best to consider students’ privacy when working, a better system should be put in place to make sure all Butler students are comfortable in their homes away from home.