Armed Intruder Discovered in Wharton

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

by Anson Stewart

On Monday, May 4th, around 7 PM, Swarthmore Police and College Public Safety were summoned to the Wharton residence hall after reports of an armed intruder in the dorm. According to a Public Safety Bulletin issued to students last night, a female resident had just returned to her room after leaving for a brief amount of time when she discovered a man emerging from the closet.

A report released by the Swarthmore Police further states that the intruder urged the victim to be quiet. When the victim pushed the intruder and began screaming, “the male then displayed a black handgun and exited the building. The victim tried to use her cell phone but could not find it and suspects it may have been taken by the suspect.” The victim was unharmed.

Early reports describe the suspect as “a black male in his early thirties, height approximately 5 feet 9 inches, medium to stocky build, clean-shaven and with short-cropped hair.”

Following the incident, Swarthmore Police and Public Safety combed the area and were unable to find the described suspect. Local police departments have also been similarly unsuccessful. There are, as yet, no clues as to whether the incident is linked to attacks on campus and the surrounding areas last month.

Several residents in Willets reported seeing the intruder wandering the halls and lounge spaces earlier that evening, around 5 PM. According to one witness, a male matching the description opened her room door while she was napping inside. Upon realizing that the resident was in the room, he asked the witness a question and promptly left. The man was clearly older and not a student, according to the witness. Other Willets residents report seeing the same man walking the halls on the 1st and 2nd floors.

While the incident was successfully reported to the campus through several emails and the recently-implemented emergency text-messaging system, many students were alarmed by the delay of the report, which came about an hour after the event.

Sophomore Amy Smolek ’11 was on her way to PPR when she received the text, “I don’t think it came soon enough, though I didn’t realize that at the time. We should have been alerted immediately.” Casey Osborne ’10 thinks otherwise, “as an alert, I think a half-hour after the event is a pretty efficient deployment. The system isn’t meant to help Public Safety catch the intruder.”

Zoe Lewicki ’11, a Willets resident, received an email from her RA before the text. “I felt adequately informed, although I was not in Willets at the time, so I didn’t feel anxious about my safety…I might have wanted more information from the college about what had happened in Willets.”

As for whether students have changed personal habits as result of last night’s incident, Osborn ‘10 says she isn’t sure what to do. “I live off-campus, and I decided to walk on the Swarthmore streets instead of through a dark short-cut on-campus, but I don’t know if that was even a smart safety precaution.”

Lewicki ’11 decided against walking campus alone after receiving the message. “I still feel generally safe, but will take precautions about walking alone and locking my doors.”

For now, Public Safety advises students to do just that: lock dorm and room doors and avoid travelling campus alone. Any further information regarding the intruder or other reports suspicious persons or vehicles on campus should be relayed to Public Safety by calling 610-328-8281.


  1. what do I do now if I see an obviously somewhat older, 5'9 clean shaven, black man in sweats roaming around in mccabe or on campus?
    or any stranger wandering about for that matter? how do i identify the suspicious ones? the ones that look like they could be gun-wielding thugs? or the ones that look like philip markoff?
    i don't want to be actively racist, or call pub safety over every stranger, but wtf!
    this is so awful.

  2. I think it's usually standard procedure for news sources to give a description of the suspect; it's not to be racist. Though you DO have a point, wtf. There's a rumor going around campus that public safety was called to McCabe last night because there was someone who matched the description. It's an unfortunate situation.

  3. Why are there no cameras at building entrances? Every time there is an intruder or violent incident (which seems more and more frequent lately), all we get is a generic description of a black male and a lame excuse from public safety.

  4. Naive, most swatties are naive, probably including me, the public safety is naive, the college is naive.. does the college think that we're really in a bubble that no one can come and kill/rob?

    Once again student council, where are all the promises last semester?

    why's the campus always so dark at night?

    so naive.

  5. well from what I hear student council encountered a lot of resistance from public safety and the administration about safety measures so…

    also, I don't think that having a well lit campus would have stopped this fellow, he was traipsing around willets and knocking on doors… lighting is one solution but maybe swatties just have to get a lot more suspicious

  6. I agree with Kate — lighting only goes so far, but is still very important. I met with Stu Hain last week, and we discussed adding more lights around campus. He agreed that it is necessary, and though the additions of lights will be gradual, they will begin this summer.
    He asked us to compile a list or map of sorts with all of the areas that need better lighting. Some Student Council members have suggested spots; I have a few suggestions of my own; and Student Council has received some suggestions via email.

    If any of you have suggestions about areas that need better lighting, please post them here, email them to, or email them to me (


  7. And on a related note, Student Council conveyed students' concerns about the delay in informing/ sharing information after the mugging the other week to Stu Hain, and he really listened. I think that this conversation played a pretty significant role in all of us getting the information right away.

  8. I never feel that safe walking from cornell to parrish at 1 am. this route definitely neeeds more lights. and there are so many trees and bushes around that someone can hide in at night. get more lights there or cut them down.

  9. Lights are one thing. Even important than that:

    –blue light system
    –universal key card access

    swarthmore one of the few colleges that doesn't have either. why has swarthmore been so stingy in implementing these systems here? i understand they are expensive, but these do actually help to deter or prevent these types of things from occurring, which should make them worthwhile.

    Thanks for addressing these concerns to the administration Rachel / stuco. Can you please add these two important items to the list?

  10. JJ, there was a discussion on the merits of a blue light system when the a visitor was robbed at Mertz field. Critics of a blue light system said that blue light systems are technologically obsolete and that they are being removed in many campuses.

  11. The absolute biggest contribution Student Council could make to campus security would be to lead a student-driven campaign (this year and in all future years) to end the practice of propping open dorm doors.

    If I were advising the Swarthmore Police, I would be looking at lists for former College employees. I am starting to think that these incidents, dating back a year to the Parrish intrusions, may well be the same person. I find it difficult to imagine that "some random dude" would be familiar enough with the campus to identify Willets and Wharton, unless he's wandering around with a handgun in one hand and a campus map from Ben West in the other.

  12. OK guys, so COME. ON. It's time to do something to decrease accessibility of student spaces to outsiders, esp living quarters. It seems that there's always been an excuse why this couldn't be done: too costly, kids will be kids and prop anyway, keys get lost, blue lights don't work, etc, etc. But this is the 3rd (at least) incident of an armed intruder this school year (2 in dorm rooms, one outside). The administration's caution to students and salvo to parents has always been that "Swarthmore is a safe place, but we are still part of the Real World [so students need to be attentive]." That is no doubt all true, and worked as the "solution" when the incidents were sporadic, but they are now quite common, and the administration needs to understand this changing reality, the realities of the community and student life on campus and act accordingly, as other campuses have, to protect its student body. Urban and suburban campuses (and, with a train stop on campus, I would put Swarthmore somewhere in-between) have dorm access by key cards and good outdoor lighting. Swarthmore needs to take responsibility for its students' safety. I pay 100K/yr to you guys… Wazzup??

  13. Do you think that key cards would have made just one of the many students who saw this creep in Willets dial Campus Security and report a stranger? They wouldd, in all likelihood, have caught the guy.

    The police must be pulling their hair out that so many students saw a 30+ year old man wandering around a dorm and nobody called security. It is going to be extremely difficult to catch this creep with so little "neighborhood watch" awareness.

  14. "It's time to do something to decrease accessibility of student spaces to outsiders, esp living quarters. "

    The doors are self locking. As soon as they shut, they are locked. A locked door is a fairly reliable impediment to a casual intruder.

    Since self-locking doors are routinely disabled, I would suggest that the College hire off-duty police to station at each dorm on campus and stop students to check their IDs before allowing them in their dorms. This would reduce the possibility of further intruders to near zero. A few arrests for underage drinking might even convince the students to see the wisdom of a cooperative effort to lock the doors.

  15. A parent, I don't think hiring off-duty police to check IDs in each dorm would be very effective. For example, in Wharton, there are 3 entrances to get in each segment. That would mean police would need to be in 9 different places, in just one dorm to check IDs.

    I also don't think that a campaign to stop propping doors is very effective either. StuCo has had the "Stop the Prop" campaign for years and it doesn't seem to make a difference.

    I think having more public safety officers actually on campus is the best way to increase safety. Our campus is pretty much enclosed from automobile traffic, probably making it difficult for the officers to get on campus for our emergencies. Having officers in dorms probably wouldn't stop strangers from getting in the dorms but it would help catch intruders trying to flee and it would also act as a major deterrent. Students would also be more accepting of an increased public safety presence than an increased police presence because of what you brought up with underage drinking.

  16. Here's an idea I had:

    Now, I know that many students [myself included] are guilty of letting people into dorms–the vast majority of times, they're students waiting for their friends to let them in, &c. But still, this third time was more than enough to turn me away from this practice…it's just not worth it. Now, it's almost the end of the year, and change will probably not come within the next week. Instead, I'm going to try doing this [maybe you'll do the same 🙂 ] :

    If I'm standing in the atrium of my dorm and somebody shows up wanting to get in, I'm going to ask [w/o opening the glass door] to see his/her Swarthmore ID. If they can present an ID for me, then I know that they're Swatties and not strangers. If they don't have an ID, then I'll just tell them to call Public Safety to let them in or to wait until their friends show up. So far as I know, every dorm has a campus phone built into the wall of the entrance. If they want to get in, they can just dial 8281. I've come to realize that I shouldn't be feeling bad about inconveniencing anyone–when it comes to the safety of my fellow students, I'm going to do everything I can to make this campus safe.

    Also, the issue of propped doors needs to be addressed. I know that several doors on campus [I won't name where, for safety's sake] can be yanked open, and I even know of some first floor windows in dorms that are left open. It's certainly convenient if you're stuck outside the dorm but again, I'd hate to be the one responsible for another student's injury.

    My brother goes to school in NYC, and he has to show an ID to a security guard any time he wants to go up to his dorm. I know that Swarthmore isn't a sprawling and bustling city campus by any means; however, I do feel it incumbent upon Public Safety, etc to have an idea of who is entering our campus. It's funny–while I wish that the previous two attacks [Willets in Sept. & Mertz area a few weeks back] did not occur, I felt like it made sense that they occurred near these areas–given that they're so close to the street. But to get to Wharton, as you all know, you have to walk across campus!

    OK–I'm rambling, so I'll end it here. Let me know what you think of my ID check idea. Practical? Waste of time? Impossible?


  17. Just lock all the doors to Wharton and set up a central security checkpoint in the courtyard.

    Here's the thing. There's a hue and cry for the College to stop intruders. OK With doors propped open and students who won't call security to report intruders when they see them in dorms, the College has very few options that won't "infringe" on perceived students' freedoms.

    I don't think stationing police at every dorm on campus is a particularly efficient approach, but it will stop intruders. It also may quickly change prevailing sentiment in the student body about ignored pleas from the College to lock the doors and to report suspicious people.

    You tell me? It's a very difficult problem when you don't have the slightest "neighborhood watch" cooperation from the student community.

    Again, they would have had this creep in cuffs if one of apparently, a half dozen students in Willets had simply called Ben West right next door.

  18. A parent, There are actually a few ways that card keys could help make dorms safer a little bit.

    Card keys would would alleviate students' need to prop doors for friends, because different dorms would not have different keys. Yes, you can argue that people shouldn't do this but you can also argue that college students also have a long history of not displaying common sense. Furthermore, if Bryn Mawr can be taken as an example, electronic key systems beep very loudly when doors are propped open. It gets to the point that they are so annoying that someone will close the door, just to get the door to shut up.
    However, this wouldn't prevent people from lying to get into buildings. A potential burglar could simply say that he was so and so's relative or whatever and ask a student to let him or her in. This would obviously put that student in an awkward position. That is why I STILL think that an increased security presence is still the best way of bettering college safety.

  19. Regardless of "Stop the Prop"'s effectiveness, I think they make an important point. Open doors invite intruders, be they armed robbers or just mice.
    Moreover, living in Mertz, open windows on the first floor are an even bigger problem. Even when the windows are not open, it's easy to push the bottom pane up, and get inside. I've even done it myself on several occasions. Right now, we've got the kitchen windows haphazardly "locked" using oven trays and mop handles, since apparently they can't lock on their own.
    Before we even think about adding more security to campus, I think StuCo, or whoever is in charge of this sort of thing, needs to make sure the dorms' security is working (or even there at all). We need doors, and windows, that lock and cannot be forced open (Alice Paul, anyone?). I know that many people claim it's inconvenient, but I think I'd rather have my keys on me at all times, and be safe, then have the convenience of climbing in through the window.


  20. In my opinion, we need at least two changes regarding dorm access:

    1) As Concerned said, we dorms that are actually secured by windows and doors with locks. Mertz is not the only dorm where it is physically impossible to lock the windows.

    2) We need to make it easier for students to get into dorms when keys are lost. Having a public safety team that doesn't sigh in frustration when a student calls and needs to be let back into a locked room might be a good start.

  21. I agree with matt. the comments left by "a parent" are almost universally condescending and unhelpful; let us all stop feeding the troll, and pray that whatever unfortunate student's parent that is can soon find a more productive use of his/her time than insulting students over the Gazette, perusing the Phoenix for "evidence" to their arguments, pretending he/she has any idea at all what living at Swarthomre is actually like, and being so involved in any of this in the first place.

    That said, I think that these incidents may go a long way towards improving the willingness of students to call public safety over strangers on campus, especially when they are in dorms or other student-oriented spaces. I don't think it's unreasonable that for so long people felt generally secure and used to seeing (benign) strangers around because there hadn't been as many frequent problems. But like the other parent mentioned, this is a changing reality on campus now and hopefully students will wake up. Hopefully this will also encourage students to LOCK THEIR DORM ROOMS and stop propping the doors.

    As for the propping, I think key cards would go really far towards ending the propping for the reasons suggested above. I don't live in Wharton but if I'm hanging out in the courtyard and need to pee, yeah I'm going to hope the door is propped- but if had a key card it wouldn't be a problem would it. Better lighting is one other solution to security questions and one that it sounds like will be easy to achieve. I'd also like to see more public safety officers around. I'm sure they are often on campus doing very diligent work, but I have definitely noticed an increase in public safety presence after emergencies- i'd like to see that increased presence at all times.

    Man, after this I am going to be hard pressed on tours to explain to prospective parents the "reasons" our academic buildings are unlocked, we don't have blue lights or key cards, and why we've had 2 armed intrusions within the last month and more than a few over the last year with no noticeable safety improvements…

  22. As a parent, I find this type of article are rather scary. I would like to see some tangible change to the approach taken to public safety by the college. I would suggest electronic card key access to dorms as a minimum with the appropriate alarms for propped open doors (as mentioned in other posts). Additionally, I would suggest the use of video cameras to record those entering (with appropriate warning signs). The cameras act as the deterrent, while the electronic cards provide real gate keeping. With at least three armed intruders (two in the dorms), it is time for Swarthmore to change its approach. Right now, it feels as through Swarthmore students are an "easy mark".

  23. I'd rather have occasional armed intruders than security checkpoints. As Benjamin Franklin said, "Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither." Give me liberty or give me death!!!

  24. Blue lights seem silly on a campus where such an overwhelming majority of students have cell phones. More lighting seems silly when you consider that this intruder was not exactly keeping to the shadows. Paying more security to be on campus seems silly when an incident like this happens less than once a year, and would seriously jeapordise underage drinking. Trying to change student behavior seems silly when this sort of thing has happened exactly once in my entire time here, and it is something that will quickly be forgotten by most students. Key cards would not be a bad idea though.

  25. Boozle, I'm not really sure what you are saying when you say that "an incident like this happens less than once a year." I don't consider it fear-mongering to bring up the armed robbery a month ago and the break-in at willets earlier this year.

    I really hope the Administration doesn't have the same "let's forget about" attitude that you seem to have.

  26. Search Swarthmore on google news and you'll find a bunch of tv news videos about the incident.

  27. My thoughts:

    1) Key card system – cheaper in the long run than rekeying an entire dorm. Also, if each card has an individual ID number and they are all logged upon entrance to a dorm, it would be a useful security aid. The data could be stored for three days and then dumped – that would allow a reasonable amount of time for students to report lost cards, have them deactivated, and for Public Safety (or the police) to do a quick investigation of the areas the card was used after it was stolen. I am a privacy nut, but I think such a system would be acceptable and very useful.

    2) Alarm buzzers on doors – simple, annoying, and useful. They could also sound a louder, more general alarm after five minutes of being open, or something.

  28. I agree that a key card system may be helpful, but the Swarthmore community of students needs to become invested in their own security and well being. If swatties continue to turn away from calling campus security whenever there is someone or something who doesn't belong then a key card will not stop anything,
    If students do not take this seriously-stop propping doors, stop holding the door for an unknown person walking in behind them and not calling security this will not stop.

    Another suggestion is making one door per dorm the entrance door and have rotating RA's and students check ID's or call up to rooms for visitors as a paid position.

  29. Does anyone find anything wrong with the "composite sketch" being offered by the Swat Police Department? Just curious.

  30. If universal key cards are too expensive, how about a code for each dorm like the one they have in Parrish? I would feel much better knowing that people won't prop doors for their friends if they can just give them the 4-digit number to get into the dorm.

    Also, the fact that the Mertz windows have not locked for (at least) the past three years is a problem. It is unacceptable that this (and the other easy-access windows and doors) has not yet been addressed.

  31. Liberty and death are both Good Things. Checkpoints on the other hand are silly.

    You idiots just need to start locking your doors and being a tad more paranoid. You're fully capable of taking a bit of responsibility for your own safety without the college looking after you.

    Checkpoints might be necessary if the school got sacked by Cossacks on a regular basis, but happily it does not.

  32. The four digit codes on the doors to Parrish are broken at least half the time (meaning if you know how to jostle the door correctly, it opens right up). Unless a new vendor is found that provides a locking system that actually works, this is far from a viable solution. It would also be way too easy for somebody with basic knowledge of the college to get a hold of a dorm's code and enter a dorm. Universal key card is a much better system.

  33. Argos, is there really any need to insult the entire student body? Yes, everyone should be a bit more careful, and I don't think checkpoints are necessary or desirable, but no one here is an idiot. It's just that no one wants to feel unsafe on this campus. This is especially true because so many people came here due to of the small community feeling at Swarthmore, an area widely touted as a very safe.

    This isn't about the college "looking after" its students as if they're small children. The college has an obligation to provide basic security measures to the students who pay thousands a year to be here. Normal homes have door and window locking systems that cannot merely be pulled open. Why can ours? Most colleges use one or some of the security measures discussed here, and many of these are very effective solutions which should be considered by the college, especially given the recent events.

    Should we really have to lock our doors every time we go down the hall to pee? Most of my friends at other colleges do not do this (even ones in big cities like Boston). If a dorm is thought of and treated as a student would his or her own house, then it should remain okay to not have to worry about locking your door for such minor runs. All that needs to be done to ensure this are a few simple things. On the college's part, install strong locks on windows and doors and consider the electronic card key system. On the students' part, don't let in people you don't know, don't prop open your doors, and don't try to pull locked doors open because it ultimately breaks them. That's all. Dorms will then be safe places. The rest of the campus is a different matter.

  34. I can't imagine the frustration the campus security and Swarthmore Police must feel. Not three weeks after an armed robbery on campus, an intruder matching the description of one of those suspects walks through unlocked doors into two different dorms where he (obviously not a college student) is seen by a half dozen Swatties and nobody calls security. This despite years of begging the students to do two things to help with security:

    a) keep the dorm doors locked
    b) report suspicious people on campus

    There's a high likelihood that this is one creep responsible for the McCabe thefts, the Parrish intrusion last year, the Willets intrusion last fall, the armed robbery last month, and now the Willets and Wharton intrusions this week. It's probably somebody who knows the campus and has figured out that the doors are propped open and nobody calls security. Just stroll up and down the halls in dorms, grab a laptop or a wallet. If someone confronts him, just ask for the RA's room, etc.

    It's quite possible that security is going to be forced to go "old-school" and begin routine rounds up and down every hall on campus.

  35. a parent, you're right. gosh. how wise. good thing we have an adult here to alert us to the follies of our ways. guys we can all go home now… a parent has clarified everything: it's all our fault.

  36. I agree with J and Kate. There needs to be a combined effort involving increased student awareness and responsibility AS WELL AS increased action on the part of the administration to implement some additional security measures. First floor windows that can be crawled through seem an obvious place to start. Locked doors that can be pulled open with a little jiggling can be fixed, no? Alarmed doors also seem easy and inexpensive. There's a whole slew of possible fixes that shouldn't break the bank that could be implemented to deter these incidents. If students are being admonished by the administration to appreciate that they are part of the real world and act accordingly, it seems to me that the administration should be asked to do the same thing: accept that the campus is part of the real world and install reasonable security measures. Placing responsibility for these events solely on the students is unfair. Do students walking to the dorm bathrooms in the middle of the night now need to worry about what (or who) they will find when they open their doors?

  37. I honestly don't understand your reasoning behind the idea (nay, the "high-probability" hypothesis) that there's a single wonder-criminal committing every crime on campus, "a parent." (Or, rather, a wonder-criminal and a partner who only comes out for direct student shakedowns, because he's kinda sick like that.) I'm not about to comb through every single ambiguous crime report description to see if there–if you'd care to make an extended comparison for the peanut gallery, be my guest, but this is an extraordinary claim and I need some extraordinary evidence to believe this. If you think this just because the brunt of reported individuals in these cases happen to be young black men, you'll have to try a bit harder.

    Furthermore, what's going "old-school" at Swarthmore? Did this used to happen at Swarthmore? Used to happen at comparable liberal arts institutions? A quick, non-scientific poll of friends in college back at home, at institutions ranging from an urban capitol to a psuedosuburbia such as Swarthmore, indicates that they've never heard of such a thing happening at their schools.

    I'm also rather confused at your assertions RE: campus administration attitudes toward safety measures… "begging" students to do points (a) and (b)… is there anyone here who feels that this is a proper characterization? The not only benevolent but also proactive and well-knowing administration admonishing day after day to the foolish, near-retarded students what to do so they don't find themselves ravaged by the nefarious "a black man"? Has the school advised RAs to have security meetings? Are public safety numbers posted in clear places in other dorms? (Legit question, actually, if anyone can chime in.) What, exactly, have they done in terms of reminding students, many of whom have probably never lived in an environment where safety-fearing was at all an issue, of practical safety tips?

    … Also, I haven't seen any doors in the Mertz-Willets-Worth area or Danawell propped, so I'm doubtful this is even the issue. If Mertz has windows that haven't locked for over four years (which I *know* my RA complained about when I lived there), I wouldn't be surprised if Wharton wasn't in equally shitty shape.

    Here's the rub: You consistently deemphasize the role the college administration itself may have to play in while completely blaming the student body. And, as far as I can tell, this is a consistent, near-pathological pattern of yours, Interesteddad. I would be more satisfied if you aimed your bitchery at both groups, but the lack of balance in your ire suggests to me not that you're trying to sanely (though angrily and without mercy) identify all possible flaws and all possible solutions, but that you have some sort of odd complex (perhaps based on the Just World Phenomenon–students have some bad experiences, so the problem *must* be their fault, lest the world not be just) that I have neither the time nor the academic credentials to deconstruct.

    Your spawn has probably already graduated, judging by your posting history, unless of course they are a "super-senior." As such, your continued obsession with the institution, especially as there is no indication that you yourself ever attended it, is bizarre and alarming. Please find a better way to spend your time–unless you have another child here (which I for some reason doubt), your connection with this place, already a step removed, is over. I'm anticipating a "I paid xxxk for my child to go here, so I'm allowed to have an opinion" — this retort, however, carries with it the implicit assumption that the *college* (to whom you pay the xxxk) is doing something wrong, a possibility that you seem to find inconceivable at best and literally impossible at worst.

    Bitch about the student body all you want, but it's starting to sound like an old man chiming for the kids to get off a lawn that isn't even his own.

  38. Also, dear Jesus, if we can spend tens of thousands of dollars on a fucking ridiculous Phoenix mascot, some thousands on a yearbook noone reads, and god-knows-how-much in hiring out for architectural plans about this Inn that isn't going to exist at this rate before my own kids might be applying to Swat, we can spend the money to renovate our fucking dorms to get locks that work, get some fucking windows that stay shut, and get some fucking key-cards so the already minimal door-propping that occurs more-or-less disappears. (Not to mention hiring another public safety officer or two if we're really that concerned, Jesus.)

  39. To answer your questions:

    The perpetrator in the second Parrish shower incident, the Willets late night incursion, the Mertz armed robbery, and this week's Willets/Wharton intrusion all were described similarly in terms of approximate age, height, build, facial shape, clothing, gender, and race. In multiple incidents, the intruder asked for the RA's room when confronted. Similar physical descriptions and nearly identical modus operandi doesn't guarantee the same perp, but it certainly suggests the possibility.

    If you map out the four reported crimes within a two day period surrounding the Mertz robbery, traces a path from the CVS past Swarthmore and down Chester Road under the Blue Route and over to the Brookhaven neighborhood.

    I do not believe that "some random dude" getting off the SEPTA train for a crime spree could accurately target Willets and then walk across campus to Wharton without some prior knowledge of the campus. I think it's even more far fetched that multiple "randome dudes" could be so lucky in their choice of dorms. Swarthmore is not easy to figure out the first time you set foot on campus.

    As for security patrolling halls:

    When I was in college, security had to use their key to turn a monitoring box at the end of each hall of every dorm as they made their regular rounds of campus each night. The practice has generally ended as students have demanded less intrusive security patrols. This is a choice 1400 adult students have to decide. More safety, but more security presence in the dorms or less security and less safety. To the extent that 1400 adult students prefer less security presence, then the students must assume more responsibility for their own safety (i.e. locking the doors to dorms).

    As for begging about propping doors, use the search feature here or at the Phoenix for "propped doors" or "propping doors". Pleas from the Deans to end the widespread practice go as far back as the archives.

    BTW, there are recent articles in the Gazette archives about card entry systems. Between half and million and a million dollars for installation, plus six figure annual service contracts. The Deans said they would not change their current policy and allow the cards universal access, but would likely stay with the current policy access only to a particular dorm, as a matter of safety.

  40. A Parent, your conspiracy theories, and constant harping on students is becoming an old act. I've seen your posts on other stories as well and you always use the same repetitive arguments and annoy the student population. Do you see the negative numbers at the upper right of almost all of your posts? That's because we don't like you.

    Do you even really read what you suggest?

    'I think it's even more far fetched that multiple "randome dudes" could be so lucky in their choice of dorms.'

    It's really not hard to follow students to find out where the dorms are. Honestly, time in Swarthmore dorms on google search, look at them on a map. It's not that hard. Why do you think that he was "targeting" specific dorms. I'm sure ANY dorm would do. Once again, your conspiracy theory is tiresome.

    "It's quite possible that security is going to be forced to go "old-school" and begin routine rounds up and down every hall on campus."

    Really??? Are you trying to sound tough or something? I can see it now: Dear students, this is Dean Larrimore, I'm afraid that we've been forced to go OLD SCHOOL.

    You are ridiculous.

  41. Another example of how little you know about Swarthmore:

    "Just lock all the doors to Wharton and set up a central security checkpoint in the courtyard."

    I'm pretty sure everyone who knows anything about life in Swarthmore knows that Wharton is divided into 3 independent sections. You CAN'T set up a central security checkpoint. At the least, you'd have to set up 3, and permanently lock another 6 entrances to the dorm.

    If you continue with this logic for every dorm on campus, and hire security for every checkpoint, the $1 million dollars a year for a TRI-CO single card system starts to look very cheap, convenient, and popular.

  42. J—I think you are missing ID's point. Of COURSE it is ridiculous to set up a checkpoint … but if you were going to do it, a central desk in the center of the courtyard is the only possible location.

    Thing is, Swatties aren't willing to accept that large inconveniences that go along with dramatically increased security.

    People talk about the windows … they *are* an issue, but this recent case was in Wharton, which is fairly well secured (I'm a resident) and the individual entered when students were leaving the building. Happens all the time.

    Propping is NOT a huge issue, at least not in Wharton. The issue is that students let everyone in and we have no security to stop them from doing so.

    Swipe cards, fixed windows, etc. aren't going to solve this issue. I have yet to hear something (other than the rather unlikely/undesirable security checkpoint) that would actually solve this specific problem.

  43. " if we can spend tens of thousands of dollars on a fucking ridiculous Phoenix mascot"

    Totally agree.

    "some thousands on a yearbook noone reads,"

    Tens of thousands. Way more than on the mascot. Totally agree.

    "… and god-knows-how-much in hiring out for architectural plans about this Inn "

    We don't pay for that. The firms are bidding on the project, as far as I know.


    Thing is, swipe cards are REALLY expensive. On a completely different scale than what you listed about. Because so many buildings are stone, it is a huge project to replace doors (and you'd have to do every door because otherwise propping could still occur). It could be thousands per door. Say there are … 10 doors per dorm? (on the low side) There are 16 dorms ( I think, not counting Strath), so 160 doors, each costing potentially thousands each (the doors themselves are more than 2k, + labor of excavating stone. Big job.) So this is hundreds of thousands of dollars just to install the damn things, let alone upgrade them/maintain them/etc.

    The number I've seen is 1 million+ for setup, potentially in the low 6-figures per year for maintenance.

    That would be equivalent to funding for a perm. tenure-track professor, twice the SBC budget, etc.

    I'm not sure it is worth it. The recent cases have been scary for some (which is awful), but not much more. Crime is EXCEEDINGLY infrequent. Why flip out over it? Esp. when propping is less of an issue than just being nice and letting people into dorms if they are waiting outside?

  44. Dude, I hate school spirit as much as the next guy. But the Phoenix mascot is frickin' adorable.

  45. People talk about an increased public safety presence, and separately mention the inaccessibility of Swarthmore by roads. Could we have a walking or biking presence? Gas-guzzling SUVs speeding around our perimeter roads only help us so much.

    After all, one armed assault occurred, what, 50 feet? from Ben West.

    Please just take away one officer's SUV. It'll save so much money in gas, and make public safety's presence SO MUCH MORE SALIENT.

  46. Dear a parent – you made a comment way up above expressions frustrations in having to pay 100K to this school every year. Since you have the time to sit on the Gazette and make comments everyday, YOU probably don't pay shit. Be sure to thank the person that actually pays for your (two) kids since it's 100k and not 50k so that you can sit on your ass all day and be more annoying and socially inept than any Swarthmore student.

    For everyone else: the amount of times I've encountered public safety at WaWa in the middle of the night perhaps says something about their attitude toward safety on our campus. I think the SUVs are necessary, and there are only two. But it would be very helpful if we had officers on bike or in golf carts. There were golf-cart officers present during RtT – geez, what a false sense of reality for the prospective students to think that that occurs even merely outside of "large visitor attendance." I wonder what we'll see this Saturday when 400 high school juniors arrive.

  47. There has been a lot of comments here imploring students to call Public Safety ASAP in the event of strangers in the dorms–and I completely agree with this. As adults [and as a community], we all need to make sure that we're looking out not only for ourselves but also for our fellow Swatties :-). I firmly believe that a quick call to Public Safety–even if on false pretenses–is better than foregoing a call and letting another student become a victim of whatever this stranger does.

    My question is this: do all Swarthmore staff wear Swarthmore College shirts [I know dining services has one, EVS as well, etc]? If not, do they all carry IDs with them? Obviously, I can spot a Public Safety officer quite easily…but for the rest of the people who work in our dorms, do they always carry credentials in a visible location [on a lanyard around their necks, on a badge attached to their shirt, etc]?

    I have certainly seen people inside my dorm who look like strangers [in that I've never seen them before], and these people often turn out to be members of the maintenance staff, etc.

    Maybe a cheaper solution to the problem of reporting strangers in the dorm would be for the college to decide on a single Swarthmore staff uniform with a visible ID badge that is to be worn every day that they come to work. That way, we can easily identify a strange adult in the dorm without having to jeopardize our safety by approaching them and asking, "are you supposed to be here?"

    Every time I walk by a Public Safety or Borough Police officer, I know exactly who they are and why they may be in my dorm.

    Just an idea 🙂
    What do you guys think?

  48. Eh,
    My experience is that small security measures are accompanied by enormous inconvenience, while true security usually comes from small and simple changes in attitude and approach. I dread these conversations because I am willing to tolerate a lot of risk to not be inconvenienced, and really dislike the particular type of inconvenience that "security" like airport security presents. I believe (and hope) I'm not alone in that.

  49. Are you serious Eh? You don't think people should flip out over students getting threatened with guns and knives IN THEIR DORM ROOMS??? You are a fucking idiot. I'm glad neither you nor anyone you now has been a victim of a violent crime, but how the fuck is it possible to be so narrow-minded about the effects something like that would have on someone. It is a big deal. Three times a year at school our size is not exceedingly infrequent, especially at a suburban school. So fuck all you people who blame this on students and try to blow these situations off. They ARE serious and they WILL keep happening if no action is taken to prevent them.

  50. I agree with Michael; one of the things I found very attractive about Swarthmore was its laid-back (in some way; high stress in others) atmosphere. Do you know how awesome it is that I can watch movies in classrooms with my friends in the middle of the night? Or study there? How nice it is when someone opens a dorm door for you?

    Lock your dorm room, and you don't have to worry about guys jumping out of your closets; call public safety if you feel insecure; stop doing stupid stuff that wastes PS's time (getting drunk and needing to be hospitalized; streaking through the library); and if we must, hire another night-shift PS to do bike/cart patrols on campus.

    One day we will get universal key cards, but that day is not going to be in the next two years. We can talk 'til we are blue in the face, but unless a donor agrees to fund the whole cost AND endows it, it's not happening anytime soon.

    Rachel Bell and Stu Hain are working on the lighting system. It does need to be fixed (and lights that don't destroy your nightvision used). In the meantime, people who are concerned about lighting — have you considered carrying a flashlight?

    Also, does it strike anyone as interesting that despite three armed incidents, no one was actually hurt (at least so far as I know)? We are dealing with intruders who are armed, but who have chosen not to hurt anyone. It's interesting. Also, for what it's worth, victims frequently cannot discern or remember accurately between a toy gun and a real gun (not saying the weapon's weren't real, just that they might not have been).

  51. A question directed towards those of you who believe that students should take the initiative to approach and question sketchy people in dorms: who is sketchy?

    "Hi, can I help you?" is not a neutral question. Trust me. I figure that everyone has different definitions of sketchy, based on individual experiences, prejudices, etc. Do we want the student attitude to be one where if someone is older than, say twenty-five, and is not wearing a uniform or a visible for of I. D. they are actively unwelcome in dorms, especially if they are a black male in their thirties, because we *know* that such persons have caused trouble here a few times in the past.

    I'm not against the need to feel safe and comfortable on campus, but I fear that a significant portion of the student body will grow to subconsciously or consciously resent people who seem to meet certain physical descriptions every time these on-campus incidents occur. Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, or whatever, but should Swarthmore where such an attitude, in the name of safety, is formed or confirmed?

    I don't know what types of discussion go on between Administrators/safety officials/RAs and students, but I feel that there needs to a discussion of rational and sane attitudes that students can adopt in order to feel reasonably safe without the paranoia.

  52. too pc:

    Great question.

    When "your house" has been broken into multiple times, it's no longer a case of being "PC" or not. I would suggest reporting everyone in or near a dormitory who you do not recognize as a Swarthmore student. The dorms just aren't that big. For the most part, you probably recognize the Swatties who live in your dorm. This would absolutely include immediately calling security ANY 30 year old male or female, of any race. If somebody's older brother has to produce ID and explain his presence, so be it. Everyone is going to have to err on the side of caution until this creep is caught.

    IMO, treat you dorm like your house. If there's a stranger sitting in your living room at home, you want to know who it is, right? Same thing in your dorm, your current home. You don't owe strangers a "neutral question" when they are wandering around in you house.

    When I've been on campus visiting, I've always made it a point to wait outside until my Swattie came and got me. I certainly would not have been offended if somebody asked me what I was doing waiting by the door and who I was visiting. Wandering the halls? I would expect a student to call security.

    My hunch is that there is one perp for many, if not all, of these incidents and that it may be someone familiar with the campus: ex-employee, ex-boyfriend of an former-student, maybe even an ex-student. All of the intrusions (maybe even the Mertz robbery) seem so unfocussed — just wandering around looking for an opportunity, counting on being able to blend into the surroundings. I mean, somebody apparently opened the door for this creep the other night, so he must not have looked too out of place walking up and down the halls at Willets, strolling across campus, and being let into Wharton.

  53. "Do we want the student attitude to be one where if someone is older than, say twenty-five, and is not wearing a uniform or a visible for of I. D. they are actively unwelcome in dorms,"

    …. Yes. Dorms are student space. I'd even feel uncomfortable seeing myrt westphal running around a dorm. Even alumni shouldn't be in dorms unless they are visiting with a current student. People who are older than students should be actively unwelcome unless they an actively prove they have a reason to be there.

  54. Some of these comments are treading pretty close to victim blaming. Say the student had gotten hurt, would we say "Oh, well, she should have locked her door when she left for ninety seconds to go to the bathroom, boo on her?" I would hope not.

    Not saying that all the calls for greater awareness of our surroundings and so on aren't important, but let's be aware of that line.

  55. I didn't read all of the comments, so maybe someone has already suggested this. I realize that for some reason Swarthmore thinks that key cards are a ridiculous idea (though I don't know why, I've never visited another school that doesn't use them), so I won't even suggest that. What I'm suggesting is that every student key opens every dorm. Since the majority of people getting let into dorms are students visiting their friends, having every key give access to all student spaces would mean that anyone can let themselves in, thus proving they are a student and have the right to be there w/o a student on the inside having to awkwardly ask to see their id. I've told some people this idea before, but they seemed to think that this is a security problem as well. My response is, every student having access to every dorm versus everyone opening the door to any old dude who walks by; you decide.

    So what does everyone think? Is that a good compromise between the system we have now and the complete overhaul needed to install a key card system?

  56. To people who think that people over 25 shouldn't be in dorms:

    Aren't you discriminating against people based on age? Why can't Swarthmore have 30 year old students, or 40 year old students? Why can only people ages 16-25 be eligible to be students? It's a narrow-minded and intolerant attitude to hold; especially because older students are almost always people who come from less privileged backgrounds and who could not afford to attend school when they were younger.

    Of course, just speaking on probability from past experiences, it makes sense to be slightly more wary when encountering individuals fitting the profile of older, male, and black. it is more probable that an older person will be an intruder with ill intent than a student; just like it is more probable that an intruder with ill intent will be male rather than female (have we even had one case of a female intruder?); and just as it is more probable that an intruder with ill intent will be black than will be any other race. That being said, of course, for any given older person, or any given male male, or any given black person, the chances that they are benign (a parent, for instance) is much higher than that that person is an intruder.

    Probably the best idea would be to ask someone who fits the profile of an intruder "Are you a parent?" it's a pretty benign question. If they say yes, ask them of whom and helpfully offer to show them where their child's dorm room is (where you can confirm their identity). If they say no, you can politely ask who they are.

    Just today I saw a strange guy in my dorm. I asked him whether he was a student (I didn't think so, since I know everyone in my dorm); he said he had dropped out of Swarthmore, lived in the area, but was moving. He came to drop off some great books, furniture, and cooking supplies he didn't want for students. The only intruders ML gets come to donate things for us to use!

    to: — Thoughts??

    You can't have a universal dorm key because if you did, then when a student lost his or her key, anyone who got it could get into any dorm. The only way to resolve that risk would be to re-key every door on every dorm and re-issue 1500 new keys to all the students. You can see what that's not a viable option.

  57. Okay, the responses to "Do we want the student attitude to be one where if someone is older than, say twenty-five, and is not wearing a uniform or a visible for of I. D. they are actively unwelcome in dorms," are understandable. I remember the student outcry after the ML patrol. Unfortunately, my focus wasn't very clear, and I'm only posting again in order to understand how people feel. I didn't mean to imply that dorms should be a public space, open to all who wish to enter. I'm actually more concerned with this portion of my previous post.

    "I'm not against the need to feel safe and comfortable on campus, but I fear that a significant portion of the student body will grow to subconsciously or consciously resent people who seem to meet certain physical descriptions every time these on-campus incidents occur. Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, or whatever, but should Swarthmore where such an attitude, in the name of safety, is formed or confirmed?"

    Are Swarthmore students impervious to that sort of thing?

    I do think that this is pertinent to this discussion because we're not just discussing measures; we're discussing mindsets too, right? (For example, the previous post's concern with the mindset of blaming the victim.)

    I just realized that I'm talking about what Dean Larimore presented in his "safety alert follow up" email, sent on May 7th.

  58. To Chris,

    I understand what you are saying and you make a good point, but is it public safety's current policy to change the locks on a dorm every time someone loses their key for good? I am convinced that this is not the case. There are girls on my hall who have lost their keys at least once this year and never found them, yet I have never heard of the locks getting changed on my dorm and I have never been issued a new key for this reason. So presumably lots of lost keys are floating around out there that can still open dorms, and we are doing nothing about it.

    Perhaps public safety should, for the sake of safety, change the locks each time someone loses a key, but that would mean constantly. I'm pretty sure safety and convenience are the reasons others schools switched to key cards from the system we use, despite the initial cost.

    I offered my solution because Swarthmore is so resistant to expensive options (key cards) but okay with less secure options (physical keys). However, if we actually followed a better security protocol–that is, changing the locks every time a resident loses a key–we would realize that physical keys are pretty damn expensive, too.

    Key card systems weren't too expensive for many less wealthy colleges to install, so what the hell is taking Swarthmore so long?

  59. Chris- At no point did I suggest that no one over the age of 25 should be allowed to be a Swarthmore student. Frankly, I'm very offended that you would make that leap in meanings, and I suspect it derives from the urge to "point out liberal intolerance."

    Regardless. Obviously Swarthmore should have students over 25, and those people should live in the dorms if they want to…although I do think that it would be a bit…strange… and possibly inaproppriate… if somebody in their 30s or 40s or 50s wanted to live in a dorm. But that is another discussion entirely and not one that needs to be had here. Even if an adult student did live in the dorms, students would be used to seeing them around, and they wouldn't be an adult stranger/non-student wandering the dorms. Since the VAST majority of students ARE between 16-25, saying that in general students should be wary of people older than 25 in dorms is neither unreasonable nor discriminatory.

  60. am I being too pc?-

    I didn't address the ahhh physical description part of your post because I have the same concerns. 🙁 I think that it's good that Dean Larimore brought that up in his email, and I don't think Swarthmore students are impervious by any means, and I have no ideas at all whatsoever about what to do about that particular problem… thanks for bringing it up here though, it's something that people do need to be thinking about.

  61. Guys, Chris is making a lot of very valid and rational points, which you may be forcing yourselves to disregard because he actually signs his posts with his name. There is nothing wrong with a little wariness on our part: as a community, we have a responsibility to look out for each other. If we want security, we might have to occasionally ask a few questions. It might seem reactionary or unwelcoming, but whatever. It is ridiculous to sacrifice common sense in order to prove that you're a good liberal.

    Given that we live in a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone else (more or less), wouldn't it just make sense to question anyone whom you've never seen around, regardless of age? My R.A. tends to be pretty vigilant about that kind of thing, and I really appreciate her for it: it makes my hall seem a lot more secure…which is great, cause in PPR, no one can hear you scream.

    Also yeah – carrying flashlights is a good idea if you're concerned about darkness. One good thing is that, if your attacker has dark-adjusted eyes, you gain an immediate escape advantage. Plus, it cuts down on light pollution and makes it easier to star gaze.

    I don't see what is wrong about being suspicious of individuals who fit the profile of an intruder. If you see a black man with short hair who is about 5'7", are you also discriminating against tall people with short hair? No. You're just using some information to help protect yourself and your community.

  62. There have been more than just three incidents. There was an incident in Hallowell a couple months back with a random guy walking into rooms (a bit like what's being described here in Willets) that eventually resulted in theft (I believe, I don't remember entirely). It's a bit surprising that this isn't mentioned at all, given the proximity of Hallowell to Wharton and the similar descriptions of what the intruder seems to be doing. There was also a theft at Willets a while back, but I'm not sure if that can be tied.

    There are probably more incidents that I haven't heard about and I don't feel very well informed about all that is going on. This lack of awareness on students' parts/lack of willingness on the administration's part to spread news of what is going on raises concerns. I'm glad they're actually making a bigger deal out of it this time, given the supposedly "safe" feeling of this school is probably also what is encouraging these intruder(s) to visit us. Without saying, campus security definitely needs to be improved somehow, but campus wide communication also.

  63. "I don't see what is wrong about being suspicious of individuals who fit the profile of an intruder. If you see a black man with short hair who is about 5'7", are you also discriminating against tall people with short hair"

    These and other comments are racist and seek to further marginalize black men on this campus including students, faculty, and staff. Isolated incidents like these cannot be taken as a "profile' for an intruder.


  64. "Dear students, this is Dean Larrimore, I'm afraid that we've been forced to go OLD SCHOOL."

    this is the best thing I've read all week. YES

  65. Even if I was a card-carrying neo-Nazi, that comment was not made with the direct intention of marginalizing black men on campus. If I actually wanted to do that, I would have said something far more racially offensive.

    It is entirely possible that you are a tad paranoid. Maybe even insane. I know I am.

    Should we all carry quarterstaves? It might be a good idea. I for one am now sleeping next to mine.

  66. A description that includes race only narrows down
    who committed the crime, so that others can look out for that person. To blame the victim for being wary does not seem appropriate. If the perpetrator was more considerate of his race, then he would not commit crimes that could lead to profiling. But being in someone's closet with a gun is a very serious act, and everything possible needs to be done to catch this person, including a detailed description as to who to look out for. There has been way too much campus violence in the past 5 years, and unfortunately as a consequence people are going to react in ways that include descriptions of criminals and probably at some institutions arming themselves (which is not going to be positive, in my opinion.) This changes the nature of student life, but it is the criminals' fault, not the students for being scared. As a solution, how about perps not coming on campus? And, as a middle ground, dorm-specific key cards, better lighting, and a heightened state of alert?

  67. If student council is reading this I'd just suggest the following improvements:

    1. Alarms for Propping Doors. This stops people from propping dorm doors for any extended period of time and while it might be a pain to unprop at odd hours, it's better than having a propped door at odd hours.

    2. Security Cameras at Dorm Entrances. If events occur a security camera system can help Public Safety not only spot intruders, but also review the tapes after an incident.

    These two above prevent and deter dorm incidents. I think it's most important to protect people in their residences.

    3. Better Lighting on Campus. Fully illuminated paths on campus. Several suggestions include the McCabe to Willets walk, North Entrance pathways, Olde Club to Campus, among others.

    This last one, while I doubt it is a significant deterrent, helps students feel safer when they are walking at night. Personally I find it uncomfortable when I have to walk along an unlit path at night surrounded by trees and shrubbery. Beyond comfort, this enables people to see others from a distance and to call Public Safety if they see even a distant event.

    I think these three things would be the cheapest set of solutions that addresses a lot of the problems raised. I agree with several people that we need to be calling public safety more often on suspicious individuals, but we also need safer and more modern systems of security.

  68. Hey JK,

    Student Council is reading this and we are talking about security issues at every meeting we have. Last meeting we discussed the pros and cons of cameras specifically, and in past many administrators and facilities people have been approached about security issues.

    On a different note: If you are reading this article and have an opinion about the language that is being used around the issue of racial profiling, maintaining security on campus or other concerns, please SEND ME AN EMAIL at

    I'm very uncomfortable with some of the statements that have been made ("it is more probable that an intruder with ill intent will be black than will be any other race") and I'm thinking of ways to respond to these sorts of comments. I'd like your input!

  69. I don't think that people have said that blacks are more likely to have ill intents, but I think that the objective descriptions in these cases have been of perpetrators who are black. That is a fact that helps identify someone, just like being a 5 foot 4 inch Caucasian male or female with blonde hair or brown hair, or any number of descriptions of people that help narrow it down in criminal cases. If a black male doesn't want to have his race described in the same breath as being in a closet with a gun and then threatening someone's life, then he should not go in the closet with a gun. It is not a racist phenomenom it is a fact in this case. You can't PC this to death, it is a criminal case, not a case study in a class.

  70. Parent2, I don't think that people have a problem with the police descriptions of the individual as black (or I hope they don't). I think what people are concerned with are subsequent comments from students that border on racial profiling, including:

    "just speaking on probability from past experiences, it makes sense to be slightly more wary when encountering individuals fitting the profile of older, male, and black…just as it is more probable that an intruder with ill intent will be black than will be any other race."

    "If you see a black man with short hair who is about 5'7", are you also discriminating against tall people with short hair?"

    And those are only the comments posted here. As a parent, you are not privy to the conversations going on all around campus that can at times become uncomfortable. Many students, particularly white students, are grappling with how to talk respectfully about balancing the need to keep an eye out for this particular black man — and the need to remain aware that intruders, thieves, criminals and murderers come in all colors, and it's frankly only coincidence that the two we've had reported on campus recently were black.

    I sincerely doubt that the individuals I've quoted wrote with the intention of profiling black men or of coming off as racist. I think that racial issues and issues that include/incorporate race are difficult for a lot of Americans to discuss – and Swarthmore students are no exception, and these incidents are one of those issues. It's not about PCing this to death. It's about addressing the reality that many of our students, faculty and staff are people of color, and those people should not encounter increased prejudice and distrust because of a couple of incidents, no matter how scary the incidents were.

  71. "many students, particularly white students, are grappling with how to talk respectfully about balancing the need to keep an eye out for this particular black man — and the need to remain aware that intruders, thieves, criminals and murderers come in all colors, and it's frankly only coincidence that the two we've had reported on campus recently were black."

    Nobody has to grapple with anything if they simply call security when they see anyone who is not a Swarthmore student in or around the dorms. Simple as that. Security gets paid to deal with people who don't belong there. Help them do their job.

    BTW, it's not just two incidents. It's at least four high profile incidents with the same exact description. Stocky, shortish African American male, about 30 years old, short hair, round facial features. This isn't profiling. It's a description of a criminal who needs to be caught and the fact that he is a criminal has nothing to do with race.

    This isn't about students, faculty, or staff feeling targeted — unless of course it turns out the intruder is a faculty, student, or staff, which I wouldn't rule out. I believe the intruder is someone with knowledge of the campus and may well ultimately be someone with experience at Swarthmore. I don't think we are talkin about a sudden rash of random West Philly dudes hopping on SEPTA to go wreck havoc at Swarthmore. To me, these incidents seem more like the work of a "weirdo".

  72. a parent, please shut up and go away. You aren't helping anything. If you would read the content of my post, you would note that I did say we need to keep an eye out for this particular black man. Two incidents, four incidents, it doesn't really matter- the comments that black men might be more likely to be ill intended, or whatever, make this a profiling issue because it removes the focus from this one individual.

  73. Thanks Kate, I agree with you, about profiling and how it must be difficult on campus in these circumstances. I did not realize that those comments had been made.

  74. Kate-

    Telling folks to "shut up and go away" is neither respectful nor conducive to open dialog about difficult issues. This discussion is important – let's not silence people just because we disagree with them.

  75. Short term solutions:
    Fix the Alice Paul/David Kemp locks, the Dana Hallowell Doors, and put screens over the 4 windows which make Merz, Wharton AB and EF and ML accesible to someone crawling in.

    Long term solutions: key cards and security alarms if the door is held open too long. Any objections?

    And a note on this thread in general: some of its posts have been, shall we say, somewhat inane/ad hominem/unhelpful. Some people seem annoyed and/or surprised by that. To which I say, This is the internet! It was bound to happen!

  76. I see key cards as a student convenience issue, not a security issue. I can't see any particular advantage of key cards over properly used hard keys — except that it's possible to track the comings and goings of every student on campus.

    I don't know the details, but I understand that, as they are rehabbing dorms, Amherst has opted for the same kind of programmable combination keypad locks Swarthmore installed in Parrish, rather than a keycard system. Something like this with a different entry code for each dorm, changed every semester (or every year or every month or whatever) could be an upgrade to consider when the economy rebounds and the College isn't forced to make significant budget reductions. Of course, Amherst is dealing with a much more serious violent crime issue this year, having had a student seriously injured in a stabbing incident. They've had to go to pat-down weapons searches for all campus parties and concerts.

  77. Not that this is surprising, but it is a bit odd that we need something upsetting to happen before we reevaluate our security measures. Just because you have an incident with an intruder doesn't mean the probability of such incidents has suddenly changed. Same deal with Amherst wanting pat-downs…I doubt knife-carrying is a sudden fad there.

    Just saying, 20/20 hindsight issues.

    And for the record guys, I'm pretty hostile towards racial profiling, but as I said before…I don't think it is racist to keep a lookout for someone who fits the description of "the armed intruder".

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