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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Students report incidents of theft, unwanted entry

As students reacclimate to living on-campus, some also reported incidents of unwanted entry into their dorm rooms.

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Following a mostly remote year, many students are reacclimating to the realities of everyday life on campus. While some reported that they continue to feel a sense of mutual trust with other community members, others have reported being caught off guard by instances of theft and unwanted entry into their dormitory rooms.

Although Cooper Whalen ’25 said he has not experienced any theft firsthand, he said his friends’ bikes have previously been stolen. Despite this, Whalen noted that he feels comfortable leaving his belongings unattended in Baker-Berry Library. 

“I’m confident enough that people here … respect everyone else’s spaces and objects enough to not steal them,” he said. 

Other students recounted incidents of theft — some of which the Department of Safety and Security were unable to resolve — that altered their perspective on campus security. 

Eva Hymes ’25 said that her bike, entire backpack, charger and laundry have been stolen on separate occasions. According to Hymes, while her stolen bike had been unlocked, she has heard rumors of other students’ “locks getting cut and tires getting removed.” She added that there have been multiple thefts in French Hall this term, including a bag she left in French’s common room overnight. 

“I put up missing posters [for the bag], because it was a really important bag and had a lot of stuff in it,” she said. “Then a janitor called me … and said she found my bag in the trash of the laundry room. But there was nothing in [it] — they stole all the clothes and everything else in it.”

Hymes noted that she reported some of the thefts to Safety and Security, but they “did not really do anything.” 

“[Safety and Security] just kind of said, ‘Oh, I’m sorry that you lost your stuff,’ [but] they said there was nothing they could do,” Hymes said. “It’s not my job to make sure things aren't getting stolen from the dorms … I think if [the College] set up cameras in [French’s] common room, that’d be great.”

Rory Doyle ’25 had a similar experience with the theft of his bike — but unlike Hymes, Doyle retrieved his bike later that evening when he saw someone riding it across the Green. According to Doyle, a Safety and Security officer told him that “nine times out of 10,” other students steal bikes to get to class and rarely take those bikes off campus. 

“I live on the first floor [of Bildner Hall] and my window overlooks the bike rack … and I forgot to lock [the bike] that night, but I figured I’d hear if something happened … but then I woke up, and it was gone,” Doyle said. “I had gotten home at [12:40 a.m.] and woke up at [6:40 a.m.], so in just six hours, it was nabbed. I’m never leaving my bike unlocked again.”

Doyle found that Safety and Security was “super helpful,” recalling that the officer he contacted drove around campus all day searching for the bike. 

Julia Hoffman ’22 noted that she feels campus is a secure space, adding that she leaves her laptop “everywhere” and never locks her dorm room during the day. Although her possessions have never been stolen, Hoffman said that “somebody shirtless” entered her dorm room on Halloween night this year. She has not discovered the person’s identity. 

“I was overall very confused and annoyed that I forgot to lock my door,” she said.

Despite the incident, Hoffman said she supports reinstating 24/7 universal card access to all residential facilities — a policy that was discontinued in 2019 following reports of “bias incidents.” While the College has since relaxed its limited access policy to allow card access to all dorms from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day, students still cannot enter dorms outside their house community after midnight. According to associate dean of residential life Michael Wooten, the new policy “strike[s] the right balance between security and flexibility.”

Some students besides Hoffman reported unwanted entry into their dorm rooms despite the limited access at night. 

Heath Monsma ’25 said that this term, two graduate students broke into his dorm room in the middle of the night and slept on his floor.

“I was really confused … they said that they didn’t remember anything from the previous night,” Monsma said. “They had no idea how they got into the building.” 

Wooten wrote in an emailed statement that residential life receives more reports of unwanted entry than theft. He also wrote that more than 95% of students picked up their keys for their dorms this fall. 

The general feeling of safety on campus varies from student to student based on past experiences with crime and identity. Both Whalen and Monsma attributed their sense of security in walking around campus alone to being male. 

“I feel like as a male, I don’t really feel unsafe ever,” Whalen said. 

Hymes mentioned that she always walks home with a friend as she generally feels unsafe alone, citing her recent experiences with theft and issues with sexual violence on campus. 

Hanover police chief Charlie Dennis and Safety and Security director Keysi Montás did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Monsma is a sports writer for The Dartmouth.