BY EMMA RUBIN ’20
Kayla Dillon ’20 was filling up her water bottle on Wednesday, Nov. 29 when she saw a familiar-looking man on the fourth floor of the library. She said that he looked around before entering the alcove where the restrooms are located, and went into the single person bathroom.
He carried a black shoulder bag and wore blue sneakers, details which stood out to Dillon who had seen a man with the same items earlier in the semester.
He is a recurring trespasser who, in November 2016, attempted to photograph students underneath bathroom stalls. Immediately after the incident last year, campus police provided a composite sketch of the man, which was posted around the library and sent in an email to students, but there were no further sightings or status updates.
“Right after I had seen him I looked at the email that they had sent us from a year earlier that had a sketch of the guy,” Dillon said. “I thought that it was definitely the guy.”
Dillon recognized the trespasser from an incident a couple weeks earlier, when her friend, who has requested to remain anonymous, ran into the man while studying in the Information Commons. “I went to the bathroom. A couple minutes later he came in. He came into the stall right next to me,” she said.
She said that he did not immediately sit down, and it seemed that he was adjusting something. When he did sit down he kept his bag on his lap. Dillon’s friend could see the strap hanging by his feet. Soon, he placed the bag on the floor and slid it partially under her stall, with his phone camera facing upward from the water bottle pocket.
“Once the bag went down with the phone I had a feeling I was being recorded,” said the student. “I quickly left and went to Kayla.” She first thought she may just be paranoid, but nonetheless went to the circulation desk to report the incident. On the way, they saw the man waiting by the fourth floor elevator, so they knew what he looked like. A worker at the circulation desk then completed a sweep of the building. The student reported the encounter with a campus police officer who took her written and oral statement.
When Dillon saw the man again several weeks later, she told someone at the Information Commons desk. The employee notified their supervisor and called campus police.
Campus police arrived at the scene shortly after that and confronted the man, who had since relocated to the women’s restroom. The officers questioned the man for about an hour. He did not deny the accusations, but was not forthcoming in his answers. “He just kind of danced around a little bit,” said Deputy Chief Barbara Arrighi.
After the questioning, Campus Police took the man’s photograph, gave him a trespass notice and escorted him off campus. “[We] let him know if he came back he’d be arrested, and that is for all three campuses — Hampshire, Mount Holyoke and Smith,” Arrighi said.
She is confident that the man who they gave a trespass warning to is the same from the previous incidents. “He fit the description to a T, including the composite picture,” she said.
Campus police will be working with the affected students to confirm that this is the same man and seeing if they would like to pursue any further action.
Dillon was surprised that there was no communication with the student body regarding either of the incidents this year.
“It is really troubling to me that he keeps coming back,” she said.
Arrighi said that everything campus police does is available to students and listed in their public log. The record for this incident officially states, “On November 29 at 7:29 p.m. Trespass issued, Library (1701-1063-OF). Case open.”
Arrighi said that because of how quickly the situation developed, the police did not want to unnecessarily frighten students. She reiterated that library staff were aware and on guard and campus police were taking extra patrols around the library.
“We have a pretty good track record,” Arrighi said while knocking on a wooden shelf. She emphasized that campus police relies on students to make reports. “If students are feeling uncomfortable and if there is an issue,” she said, ”they should always feel free to call us.”