On Saturday evening, Warren Towers was full of police officers. Both uniformed and in plainclothes, security professionals from BUPD and the Boston Police Department were seen patrolling the halls of Warren Towers. Some even questioned students, both in common areas and in the middle of the dining hall as they ate dinner. The atmosphere in the entire dorm facility was tense and uncertain. Why were they here? Why were there so many? Hours later, around 9:30 p.m., a BU News alert was issued to residents of Warren Towers that an intruder (male, 5’10, of Middle Eastern descent) had been caught in Warren Towers after inappropriately touching a female student at the 4th floor elevators of A Tower at approximately 6:35 p.m. No other information has been released yet. Evidently, the offender was not apprehended, as police officers were seen questioning students about him. The handling of the situation has left many students feeling at risk and under-informed.
Students are shocked and frightened by the news that an intruder was able to access Warren Towers and commit such a terrible offense, especially after a string of assaults and other crimes in the area of the school this year. As a university that prides itself on its security, it is shocking to see that such a breach occur unnoticed, and—for an inordinate amount of time—unreported on. Throughout the evening, students were anxious and unsure of what had happened—rumors of crimes of escalating heinousness were passed around for the three hours between the crime and the security alert. When the news finally broke, there was little relief to be had.
As a current resident of Warren Tower A, I am used to seeing police officers in and around the building. Security is tighter than any other dorm on campus, and on weekend evenings it’s not uncommon to see one or two police officers around to mitigate a dispute or handle an out-of-control student. Most of the time, seeing one or two blue uniforms makes me feel safe. I thought of Warren Towers as an impregnable fortress. Being surrounded by police officers, however, creates quite the opposite effect. It was obvious that the situation was a serious one, judging by the sheer amount of personnel on site, but it was impossible to know what had happened. Especially after waiting for hours in a sea of stony-faced uniformed officials for an explanation of the night’s events, Warren Towers did not feel like a safe place to be.
Even more curious about the situation is the fact that only residents of Warren Towers were alerted to the intrusion and assault. Many students in Warren Towers at any given time are not residents of Warren, and all students at BU deserve to be alerted when security is at risk. For many students, Saturday night and Sunday were full of rumors—a fact which led to vast misinformation and some harmful rumors being spread.
The fallout from the crime has been remarkable. While discretion on the part of the victim and delicacy in breaking the matter are paramount to handling the situation, I object to the manners in which the crime was investigated and the news was broken. Ideally, a horrifying incident like this one would be discreetly and promptly investigated, and then released quickly to those it affects (namely, all BU students). Instead, students were subjected to hours of uncertainty and tacit silence on the part of the numerous and obvious police officials, followed by a delayed and unclear alert that left students outraged and full of questions: how could an intruder access Warren Towers? How could one escape? Why were more students not alerted, and why did it take so long? Why was the investigation so indiscreet?
After a year marked by numerous crimes on or around the BU campus, including several sexual assaults, it is more important than ever to consider safety and security at BU. Raising awareness of ways to stay safe (never walk alone at night, learn basic self-defense, have easy access to your cell phone at all times, etc. Read more safety tips here.) and employing them in one’s daily life are of great importance. It is of significant concern, however, that an assumed safe haven like Warren Towers was invaded despite its heavy security. It is equally alarming that the matter was handled with so little discretion or regard for the sense of security of the students. Now more than ever, students need to feel safe and be safe at BU.
Edit: The alert sent out by BUPD did not indicate that the offender was an intruder or a middle-aged man.