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Peeping Toms return to East

By Andrew Elmers

Section: News

March 27, 2015

Last week, two separate reports of a Peeping Tom were made by East Quad residents to Public Safety. The first report was made on Wednesday, March 18, in the afternoon, by a student in Pomerantz detailing a “past Peeping Tom incident,” as stated in the weekly Brandeis Police media log. A second report was filed Friday, March 20, in the morning around 9:30 a.m., by a student in Hassenfeld reporting that “she was watched by an unidentified person while taking a shower.”

In a statement sent to The Brandeis Hoot, Director of Public Safety Ed Callahan shared that “the incident that occurred the evening of Tuesday, March 17 was reported to my staff on Wednesday, March 18.” Referring to the incident that occurred in Pomerantz, “The reporting party indicated that it appeared that someone was looking through the shower curtain,” Callahan stated. In regards to the incident from March 20, “The student reporting the incident didn’t see the person, so it is not possible to determine this person’s identity or gender. We appreciate the student’s vigilance for reporting what she saw.”

East Quad Community Development Coordinator Vincent Scarfo supported Callahan’s statement, adding, “The student saw someone crouching down and peeking into the shower through space between the curtain and the shower wall,” in an email to The Hoot. “The resident sent an email to her CA the next morning, March 18. The Department of Community Living (DCL) forwarded information about the incident to Brandeis Police, and they interviewed the student on March 18,” Scarfo added.

Additionally, a source (who stated he wished to remain anonymous) shared with The Hoot that he witnessed a suspicious character pacing a hallway in Pomerantz on Thursday night of last week.

“I was coming back up to Pom 6 on what must have been last Thursday and he was just awkwardly pacing back and forth in the hall. Then he went down the stairs a little bit and looked out one of the windows from which you can only see the other windows,” the source recalled. “I was kinda skeeved so I went down to see what he was doing and he was just walking awkwardly on Pom 5. I thought he was lost or something, and it’s possible he was, but I was a little sketched out.” The source stated he did not report what he saw to the East Community Development Coordinator.

These reports come a year after a series of Peeping Tom incidents that occurred in East last year. According to a Hoot article from Jan. 31, 2014, three separate reports were made, two in December 2013 and one in January 2014, of an invasion of privacy in the bathrooms. After alerting the community to be on the lookout, it was eventually decided to keep the bathroom doors locked in all of East to prevent further invasions of privacy. Students now have to use their room keys in order to unlock the bathroom door and get inside. This precaution has continued into the current year.

Yet these measures have not been fully followed by the community. “Unfortunately, the Community Advisors regularly have to remove door props from the bathroom doors. This defeats this very important security feature,” Scarfo shared in his email. He said that there was no real evidence of any tampering with the locks on the bathroom door where the incident occurred, but could not determine if the door was locked or not.

East residents have noticed this problem as well. “On my floor, the doors don’t close all the way, and you have to push them close. Students get lazy, so the doors stay open,” a female resident, who wished to stay anonymous, shared with The Hoot. “I know at least where I’m at, we’ve put tape over the lock on the guys room so we don’t need our keys to open it,” the anonymous source who saw a suspicious character shared as well.

“We have asked residents, both in an email and at a group meeting, to be extra vigilant in closing doors and not letting people they don’t know into the hall. We also reminded them to report any suspicious behavior to DCL and Brandeis Police,” Scarfo stated, in regards to what students are being asked to do. “DCL is currently working with Brandeis Police and Facilities to review physical safety measures, and to enhance them if shortcomings are identified. These physical measures act as a deterrent and protect the privacy of our residents. The East Quad Staff is also working with the Office of Prevention Services to address the issue from a community perspective. We hope to create a community of active bystanders who will speak up and report incidents when they see instances of sexual harassment and violations of privacy.”

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