Is it hard to do? No. Is it hard for maintenance workers to do? Apparently.

Multiple students on Central Campus have reported that maintenance workers have entered their apartments and even bedrooms without knocking.

The maintenance department’s incompetence is nothing new—the handle for the middle shower in the Few HH104 bathroom is loose even though I filled out a repair request over a year ago. What’s new and far more concerning is how common the department’s workers disregard students’ privacy.

Last month, a student posted on Fix My Campus about multiple occasions when maintenance staff entered her apartment without knocking. In December, she was studying for an exam in her living room when she heard someone struggling to open her apartment door. Just a few weeks ago, her roommate was in her room naked when three middle-aged men opened her bedroom door.

These bizarre incidents are not exclusive to the unlucky students from that apartment. Four other female students commented on the post reporting similar experiences. One student wrote that a maintenance worker came to her apartment to fix an issue with the bathroom, yet the worker opened her bedroom door without knocking.

It is protocol for students to be emailed in advance of any non-emergency maintenance visits and for employees to knock before entering any apartments, which Andy Beville, the director of facilities operations for Housing, Dining and Residence Life, told The Chronicle. Clearly, that protocol isn’t being followed.

Beville admitted that there have been communication errors the past three months, which could explain students’ reports that they didn’t receive any emails in advance of the incidents. This explanation is less compelling as an excuse for workers not knocking before entering apartments.

That this behavior has gone on for at least a semester suggests either incompetence or worse when considering that all of the students who reported incidents on the Facebook post are female. Also concerning is that the administration has shown no effort to hold those responsible for these egregious violations of students’ privacy accountable for their actions.

I can personally attest to the extent of this privacy issue.

During my freshmen year, I lived in a corner room in Bassett. One of the windows opened onto the roof of a walkway connecting to Baldwin Auditorium—it’s a common route to climb Baldwin. The front of my bed was beneath this window. One spring day I woke up to the unpleasant sound of drilling. As I came to, I heard drilling again, but now fully awake, I realized just how loud it was. I turned around in bed and looked out the window to see why.

When I looked outside my window, there were metal bars between me and everything outside of it. This is weird, I thought. I must still be asleep. Then, after looking at the bars for a couple of seconds, I heard more drilling and looked where the sound was coming from. There was a man looking at me looking at him just a couple feet away. At this moment, I was concerned, but admittedly a little thankful that there were now metal bars between me, and this stranger at my second floor window. I was particularly thankful for the metal bars after I looked to my right and found a second man staring at me through my window. This is very weird and definitely isn’t a dream, I thought.

I’d like to pause now to explain that at this point in my life, I slept with the blinds up in hopes that the natural sunlight would make it easier to get up in the morning. This is important for two reasons. First, it means that the maintenance workers could see me sleeping in my bed just a couple feet from them and still thought it would be a good idea to screw metal bars onto the window. The second is that natural sunlight does make it easier to get up in the morning, but the adrenaline rush from finding yourself almost naked and face to face with two middle-aged men securing metal bars to your window is even more effective.

Now, I am a lazy person, but I jumped out of bed that morning. I found the HDRL office and told the staff what I had woken up to. They apologized and said that the bars were not supposed to be installed until the summer when high school students would be living in the dorms. There are apparently too many liabilities from minors being able to climb Baldwin.

I remember thinking at the time that the situation was very bizarre, but that since I’m male, it hadn’t quite crossed into the realm of creepy. I thought about how serious the issue would have been if a female student had been living there instead of me. I figured that the incident was isolated though and wasn’t worth following up on.

It is clear today that this isn’t the case. These egregious and wholly unnecessary violations of privacy are far too common, and even more concerning, seem to primarily involve female students and male maintenance workers.

The maintenance team is looking into new ways to contact students before maintenance visits to avoid these types of incidents in the future, Beville said. To aid them in this endeavor, I’d like to provide some practical and easily implementable solutions.

Always knock on the door before entering. Do not open doors or enter rooms unless necessary. Post a notice on the apartment door the day before to inform students’ of upcoming maintenance work. And lastly, text students when maintenance workers will be entering an apartment.

I can’t think of a decent excuse for not implementing any of these recommendations—texting is free after all—but I’m sure the administration could cook something up.

Justin Koritzinsky is a Trinity senior. His column, "performance review," runs on alternate Fridays.