The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Students share recent experiences with burglary, harassment

Photo by Patrick Hansell for The Lafayette
The three incidents took place in Ruef Hall, Marquis Hall and Watson Hall.

Multiple incidents of burglary and one of a student being followed to her residence hall have been reported to Public Safety since the end of March. Three female first-years anonymously shared their experiences with The Lafayette.

Two of the incidents occurred a day apart in neighboring dorms, Ruef Hall and Marquis Hall.

On March 25, the resident of Ruef Hall alleged that she awoke to the sound of the door to her room closing sometime around 3-5 a.m. while her roommate was sleeping. A few minutes later, she saw the door close again.

The resident said that she and her roommate were sure that they had locked the door before going to bed.

“We’ve had problems with our lock in the past so we always check that it’s actually locked,” the resident said. 

The morning after, “there was random stuff missing,” such as makeup, according to the resident.

Director of Public Safety Jeff Troxell confirmed that the incident had been reported.

“When people say, ‘somebody broke into my room,’ it’s considered a burglary because it’s a form of trespass,” Troxell said.

According to Troxell, the door of the entered room was unable to be fully secured due to a hanging mirror that rested on the top of the door.

Troxell said that when an unknown person enters another student’s residence, it is commonly an accident as students can walk into the wrong room, though he acknowledged this may not be the case in this particular situation.

The Ruef Hall resident said that when she brought up the incident with her friends, the general reaction was how they had “heard of so much stuff happening.”

A resident of Marquis Hall reported that one day later, on March 26, she was followed to her dorm by a man she described as “not college-aged at all” while walking from South College Hall at approximately 1 a.m.

“I’m walking out and this man comes out from behind a tree … trying to talk to me,” she said, adding that she told him not to. “I keep walking and he starts following me. So I run.”

The man kept following her, but she was able to enter Marquis Hall, leaving him outside the door.

In Pennsylvania, harassment is defined as a person acting “with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another” including following “the other person in or about a public place or places.”

The incident was reported to Public Safety after the resident shared her experience with her resident advisor. Public Safety was “very understanding” and “definitely trying to be proactive” about the situation, according to the resident.

“I think what made it very nerve-wracking was that so many incidents have been happening lately and so many were with people I had known personally,” she said, echoing the sentiment of the Ruef Hall resident, a friend of hers.

Other students who had similar experiences declined to speak to The Lafayette after being approached by the Marquis Hall resident.

The Marquis Hall resident said that she has a “very different perspective” about her on-campus safety after her experience. She added that had the incident occurred farther away from her dorm, she would not have had access to any buildings on campus except for Van Wickle Hall.

The third incident happened earlier this week in Watson Hall. At 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, the contents of a wallet in the unlocked room of a Watson Hall resident were stolen.

“All of my cards — my ID, my credit card, cash, a gift card — it was all gone,” said the resident, who had left the room unlocked to do her laundry and use the bathroom, her roommate asleep inside.

The burglary was reported to her resident advisor and Public Safety.

“We’re fact finders,” Troxell said. “We try to find out: What exactly happened? What do you recall? What do we know? Were there any witnesses? Does the door lock work properly? Did you share your key with other people?”

“We try to get to the bottom of why the situation happens,” Troxell added.

“Unfortunately, I can not comment on these cases because they are active investigations,” wrote Keith O’Hay, a Public Safety detective, in an email regarding the Watson Hall incident. “However, no forced entries were reported to the Department of Public Safety and we remind students to keep their doors locked at all times.”

“We continue to actively investigate the three separate cases,” Troxell wrote in an email. “We do not believe they are related. No signs of forced entry.”

According to the 2023 Public Safety Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, there were two reported burglaries in 2022 and three in 2021 in “Student Housing Facilities.”

Several resident advisors did not respond to requests or declined to comment. Tyler Bergsma, assistant director of residence life for residence halls including Ruef Hall and Marquis Hall, declined to comment and forwarded questions to Public Safety.

This is an ongoing investigation by The Lafayette. Those with similar experiences should contact Public Safety and can use our tip form to share their story.

Andreas Pelekis ’26 contributed reporting.

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About the Contributors
Selma O'Malley
Selma O'Malley, News Editor
Waiting for someone to write a sitcom about a college newspaper.
Patrick Hansell
Patrick Hansell, Staff Photographer

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