Burglary, written threat reported at KDE sorority
A graphic message threatening sexual violence was found inside Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority house Wednesday night. According to a campus-wide email sent Wednesday night by Safety and Security, the department responded to a report of a possible burglary at a sorority house around 7:50 p.m. that day. In the email, interim Safety and Security director Keysi Montás said a written message had been left that was “obscene and threatened sexual violence.”
According to sources familiar with the incident, the message was found in the house’s basement. The perpetrator’s message described entering the house, accessing sisters’ personal possessions and committing vulgar and offensive acts inside the house with said possessions. The message called the sisters vulgar names, and the perpetrator threatened rape and continued surveillance of the house.
Hanover Police Department Lieutenant Scott Rathburn confirmed that the department was investigating the incident. While the incident was first reported on May 24, Rathburn said that the time frame for the burglary may go back several days. Rathburn said it was too early in the investigation to give a definitive timeline.
“At this point, I don’t have anything further on any potential suspects or motive or anything like that,” Rathburn said. “What we are giving out for information is just some basic safety tips — always being alert, aware of your surroundings, being aware of any strangers. If you’ve got to be out, let somebody know where you’re going or have somebody else with you.”
Rathburn said the department made changes in its patrol procedures alongside working with Safety and Security to ensure that extra time was being spent in the area. He did not specify what those procedures were.
While Rathburn did not say whether the department was considering the sentence in the message alluding to sexual violence as a legitimate threat, he said that the potential suspect could have broken into the house with the intention of committing such a crime.
Rathburn added that an additional message was found written in the house but could not expand further. Although he stated that the department had formulated a theory as to how the burglary at KDE had occurred, Rathburn did not divulge that information because of the ongoing investigation.
Additionally, Rathburn confirmed that the department was investigating a reported burglary near the West Street area, though he did not believe that the incident was connected to the incident at KDE.
Dean of the College Rebecca Biron and Provost Carolyn Dever sent a campus-wide email in response to the incident Thursday morning. In the email, Biron and Dever said that the behavior and threatening language included in the message found in KDE had “no place in [the Dartmouth] community.”
According to the email, staff from Student Affairs have reached out to KDE, Greek leadership, undergraduate advisors and concerned students. The email also added that affected students could reach out to counseling staff, undergraduate deans and College chaplains for support.
The email urged any students with information regarding the crime to contact Safety and Security or Hanover Police.
In an email sent to campus by the Greek Leadership Council on Thursday night, the organization joined “with other organizations in condemning these actions.” The email further stated that the GLC recognized the possibility that the perpetrator of the burglary might be a student of the College, noting that “violence against women on campus, particularly in our Greek Spaces, is unfortunately nothing new.”
Student Assembly president Ian Sullivan ’18 and vice president Matt Ferguson ’18 sent an email to campus condemning the incident, which “left many feelings unsafe in their own homes.” They are planning to meet with College President Phil Hanlon to discuss ways to make women feel safer on campus, the email stated.
The Student and Presidential Committee on Sexual Assault stated that these “deeply disturbing incidents” are “indicative ... of a pervasive rape culture” on campus and “have no place in the Dartmouth community.” The email noted that a photograph of the threatening message has spread via social media and cautioned that such an image is “triggering content and the implications of sharing it can be very damaging.”
A KDE representative declined to comment, as did Montás, citing the ongoing investigation.
Anyone with information about the incident should contact Safety and Security at (603) 646-6000 or Hanover Police at (603) 643-2222.