The Boston University Police Department arrested a 37-year-old male non-affiliate in Mugar Memorial Monday night for allegedly photographing female students.
It is frightening to hear that a non-affiliate was taking advantage of students, especially in a setting as seemingly peaceful as the library. There, students’ greatest concerns are often with final projects and exams. Those studying at the library tend to rely upon the library as a space with few, if any, disturbances, which makes Monday’s incident all the more unsettling.What is also aggravating about this incident is its timing. It’s the end of the semester, and soon every seat in the library will be occupied by diligent, even frantic, students. This incident is one of the last things they want to think about. Not to mention, the BU community is still reeling from the string of assaults that involved several female students a few weeks ago. In November, BU students received an email from BUPD alerting them that in the past six weeks, five women had been assaulted. The suspect pushed the victims to the ground, lifted their skirts and took a picture of them, according to the email. While those assaults do not appear to be connected, Monday’s incident is nonetheless disconcerting.
Looking forward, hopefully the BUPD takes some larger steps to protect students in the library — either by stepping up patrols or restricting access in some way. Mugar should be available for public use, within reason. We are entering the last week of classes. Finals are approaching, and soon the library is going to be open 24 hours. Students should feel comfortable studying there. Other universities restrict access to their libraries. For instance, Harvard University requires individuals to swipe their Harvard IDs upon entering Widener Library, the university’s flagship library. And it’s not like the public has limited access to these resources. The Boston Public Library and its many branches are available to them.
The suspect is banned from BU property, but whose to say a similar incident could not happen again? Monday’s incident is unsettling. Hopefully the BUPD makes some larger effort to protect students at the library, especially in these last few weeks of the semester when the library is at its busiest and students are focused on preparing for finals.