On the night of November 16th, and carrying over into the morning of November 17th, the residents on the fourth floor of Territorial Hall were endangered by an intoxicated 26-year-old man. Territorial Hall, as one of the eight exclusively first year-residence halls on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, is not a place that residents would be expecting to be approached by a menacingly intoxicated nonresident.
I personally was studying with a friend in one of the fourth-floor lounges at the time of the incident. It was approximately 1:30 on the morning of November 17thand he followed her into the lounge after she had attempted to go to the restroom. The intruder entered the lounge and my friend left as she felt uncomfortable in his presence. He sat across the table from me and proceeded to strike up a rather uncomfortable conversation. He began with asking why she had run away from him, to which I replied that she wanted to go to bed and he was walking through the hallway very late at night, so she was likely scared. He then got rather upset and made an absolutely preposterous claim that he had been “studying all night,” and asked me where the parties were at. I gave him directions out of the building and then a series of random street names, in an attempt to get him to leave the building. He stood up to leave but before doing so he grabbed my unopened box of Reeses Pieces and savagely tore the corner of the box with his teeth. He then exited the room while drinking the entire box of Reeses Pieces in a manner not unlike the way I imagine he had been drinking alcohol that night.
After he had left the room, I continued working on my homework, until I heard footsteps rapidly approaching. Suddenly the door flew open and my friend entered clearly shaken up. Sensing a dangerous situation, I shut the door and sat in front of it so that the man would not be able to reenter. Prior to her abrupt entrance, she had gone into the bathroom to brush her teeth before bed, but upon opening the door to leave the bathroom she found the man standing outside ready to come in. He began to advance towards her and told her to “come here.” She lunged towards him in an effort to scare him into a retreat and as he stumbled backwards, she sprinted past him and back to the safety of the lounge.
I called the police and informed the operator that there was a threat on the fourth floor of Territorial hall. After my brief summary of the recent chain of events I was told that officers were on their way and that we would be informed when the officers determined that the hall was safe.
During the time in which the officers were on their way to the building, the unidentified man continued to terrorize the residents of the fourth floor. He lied on the futon of one resident and made frighteningly delusional claims that he was “an alien.” After the people living in the room told him to leave, he walked into the hallway and grabbed a female resident on her way to the bathroom. She pulled free of him and fled to safety at which time he allegedly left the building.
Ignorant of the events that unfolded during this time, I retained my position in front of the door. My friend and I stayed in the room for over two hours before deciding to call the police once again to get an update on the situation. We were then told that the officers had come to the building and were told that the man had already left. They did not check the hallways or bathrooms but instead chose to take the word of the security monitor who sat near the front door and allowed the man to initially enter the dorm. I asked for any further evidence such as the security cameras in the lounge but was told that it would “take too long to rewind the footage.” I informed the operator that the perpetrator had seen my friend leave the door to her room unlocked and that she did not feel safe going back into her room. The operator told me that they could send another officer to check her room- as they had said they would do two hours earlier- but that it would take about fifteen minutes to arrive as it was not an emergency. Fed up with the lack of helpfulness I told the operator that I would check the room myself.
Although the man was not in my friend’s room, this issue reflected an utter lack of security in the residence halls. There was a security monitor just within the front doors who allowed the man to come in. The man then scared the first-year residents of the fourth-floor hallway before leaving the dorm scot free. The campus security officers offered no assistance as they took the word of the security monitor- who was likely a student, not much older than me. I was told that I would be notified when the building was deemed clear of any threat, but that assurance went unfulfilled for more than two hours- and likely would have remained that way for much longer had I not called the operator again.
Paying approximately ten-thousand dollars per year for room and board should guarantee a feeling of safety within the residence halls, but evidently this is not the case. I no longer study outside of my room at any time after 11 PM due to this incident, and unless the security issues are resolved I doubt that I or my fellow Territorial hall residents will ever feel completely safe leaving our rooms late at night.