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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

‘Peeping Tom’ a consistent problem in East

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: News

This Monday, students in East Quad reported a male individual looking into women’s shower stalls, the third incident of this academic year following two reports in Dec. 2013.

The students were informed of the incident by East Quad Community Development Coordinator Stephanie Crane via email. Brandeis Director of Public Safety Edward Callahan sent an email to the Brandeis community on Tuesday telling students that the campus police had documented the report and will continue to investigate the incidents. Callahan also advised students in East to be careful of whom they let into residence halls and to make sure to keep their doors closed, rather than propped open.

CDC Crane first emailed East residents last semester on Dec. 6 after a female resident reported seeing an unknown male individual walking through the women’s bathroom and staring into the occupied shower stalls. At the time, Callahan and public safety were notified, and Crane assured students that there was “no immediate danger to our community.” The second email came on Dec. 16, a day after a similar incident was reported to campus police. After the incident was reported, the Department of Community Living began working with Brandeis Police and the Dean’s office to catch the unknown perpetrator or perpetrators.

Thursday’s email was relatively similar, except for a provision from Crane and East’s CA staff stating that they are “working with facilities to address issues with shower curtains; including replacement of the current shower curtains with those that will provide more coverage.” The only other new information had come in Callahan’s Tuesday message which contained a vague description of the suspect as a “white male with straight, dark hair,” and again, advice to keep doors close and be watchful of who gets let into quad buildings. Crane’s email also buttressed the idea of community, asking students to watch out for each other in order to protect the student community as a whole.

Unfortunately, these incidents are not the first of their kind at Brandeis. Early in Jan. 2012, a male Brandeis student was identified by Campus Police as the person who had looked into women’s showers in Gosman. But unlike the recent events, the suspect was caught in under a month, due in part to Gosman’s utilization of CCTV and the records stored from card-readers. Certainly, Brandeis Public Safety would not be able to use the same methods of investigation when looking into incidents in residential buildings, as there are simply too many people going in and out, issues of privacy relating to CCTV notwithstanding.

However, with increasing reports of sexual assaults on campus and several thefts from rooms unprotected by video surveillance technology, students are not ignoring these issues. Students expect that the university must be at least willing to consider alternative steps if they do not feel safe within their residence halls because of “peeping,” theft or other reasons. While students know to be diligent and take responsibility and participate to help make the on-campus environment safe and inclusive, they expect Brandeis to respond if incidents keep occurring when students have done their part.