On Friday evening, several students reported an unaffiliated male trespassing in Sullivan and Sheehan Halls. The individual knocked on doors, spoke with residents and roamed around the halls before being detained by Public Safety.
Hundreds of students were back on campus a few days early this past weekend to participate in Panhellenic sorority recruitment. Spring semester classes did not officially commence until Monday, Jan. 10, so the rest of the student body was not on campus when the incident occurred.
First reports of the suspect began around 11:00 PM from Sullivan Hall. When Public Safety officers responded to the reports they found the individual in Sheehan Hall. By around 11:45 PM, the suspect was detained for trespassing and removed from campus.
“The individual was detained and identified as a non-Villanova student,” Jon Gust, a spokesperson for the University, said. “He indicated he was looking for a lost item, but was informed that he did not have authorization to be in University residence halls. This individual was given a warning for trespassing and was barred from returning to Villanova’s campus.”
One student explained that she spoke with the suspect on two different occasions while she was in her dorm room in Sullivan Hall.
“A little after 11:00 PM I got a knock on my door, and it was a guy I’d never seen before asking if I’d seen or heard his friends,” said sophomore Emma McClellan. “I said no, and that was it. Then, like five minutes later he came back and asked me for directions to Mendel and said that’s where his friends were. I explained, then went to shut my door because I started to get weird vibes, and he asked for my name and told me I was pretty. By that point I knew something was off and shut my door.”
Another student explained that the suspect used a different excuse to talk to her while she was in her dorm room.
“He knocked on my door at around 11:20 on Friday night and asked me if I had seen a ‘gold crescent-shaped ring with green and white stones,’” said sophomore Jackie Thomas, a resident in Sullivan Hall. “I said no, and he was really insistent, asking repeatedly if I was sure and pointing around the hallway. I basically said no I’ll keep an eye out and closed my door.”
“He had a Rick and Morty beanie on,” Thomas said, describing his appearance.
Around 11:45 PM, the trespasser was detained by Public Safety officers. Sophomore Julia O’Keefe witnessed this event outside of her dorm room in Sheehan Hall as she returned from Panhellenic recruitment.
“I was coming back to Sheehan, and there were Public Safety officers going back and forth between Sheehan and Sully, and the RAs were all outside telling us not to go in,” O’Keefe said. “A male RA walked me back up to the third floor, and as we came up the stairs I saw three officers right outside my door handcuffing a man and asking him if he was affiliated with the University. It was really kinda scary to see, especially since it happened right outside my room.”
After the suspect was removed, students were allowed to return to their rooms.
“We were allowed back up once they had him in handcuffs, but there was never really a formal ‘all clear’ or statement made which was super stressful,” O’Keefe said. “Our RA kept saying she hadn’t heard anything and that we should just be on the lookout, but the officers never addressed it directly or told us we were all good.”
In an email on Sunday, Jan. 2, to students participating in Panhellenic recruitment, Gregory Masso, Coordinator for Hall Operations and Student Access, warned students to be careful around campus.
“Please note that this is a low occupancy time on campus,” Masso said in the email. “Do not prop doors, hold doors for others you do not know, and do always carry your Wildcard with you.”
Although Residence Life warned students to not prop open doors, students reported that the doors to both Sullivan and Sheehan Hall were unlocked and did not require a Wildcard scan to enter the building for a majority of the day on Friday.
“The front doors of those buildings were open on Friday from 9am-6pm for move in, but were locked that day at 6pm,” Gust said. “Since this report to Public Safety came in after 11pm on Friday, this individual would have gotten in the building behind someone else who was entering.”
Several students have expressed concern for their safety after this incident. Sophomore Grace Cull described the fear she felt while alone in her dorm room, as her roommate was in quarantine.
“I was worried for myself and for girls on my floor that may not have heard that there was someone here, and that someone would accidentally open the door,” Cull said. “I have always felt very safe on campus until this incident, and I now feel that I have to take matters of safety into consideration more than I did before.”