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Amal M. Bass likes to wind down with a shower late at night, but after hearing about how a man was seen peeping at one of her law school colleagues in the shower on Monday, the bathroom may become a fountain of anxiety.
“I’m typically the only one in the bathroom,” said Bass, a second-year law student who lives—and showers—in Harvard Law School’s Gropius Complex. “It’s very uncomfortable. It’s just very uncomfortable.”
On Monday around 11:00 a.m., an unidentified man gained access to the women’s group bathroom in Dane Hall of the Gropius Complex next to the Law School, and peered at a law school student as she showered, according to police.
“He was in the actual restroom,” said Steven G. Catalano, Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesman. “He poked his head under the shower stall so that his head was actually looking up into the shower stall. He saw that she saw him and he fled the area.”
The bathrooms in the all Gropius dorms can be opened only with a number combination.
“They put locks on the doors but it is the same combination for all the female bathrooms,” said Bass, who does not know the identity of the woman who was spied on. “We’re assuming the person had the combination because it’s unlikely a female would have helped a male get in.”
The combination on the bathrooms have since been changed, Bass said.
“We’re not sure if it was someone within the community or someone from the outside,” said John Arciprete, director of facilities at the Law School.
But students said a man unaffiliated with Harvard could not have gotten very far. “I would assume it’s a student,” Bass said. “We have a key to the entire Gropius Complex. If you have that key, you can get into any floor on any hall.”
In an e-mail sent out yesterday, HUPD advised that “residents should not prop interior or exterior doors at any time, hold an outside door open for strangers or allow strangers to ‘piggyback.’”
“There’s a real lackadaisical attitude by students sometimes where the inconvenience of locking doors collides with these issues,” Arciprete said. “It’s one of our assets. It’s a very trusting community. It’s a nice place to be. There are some who hold doors open for someone behind them.”
But Rachel Morrissey, a second-year law student who lives in Story Hall, said she believes this incident is connected to cases of unidentified people roaming through the Law School dorms earlier this semester.
A graduate school student saw an unidentified male outside her window, standing on her second-floor fire escape on Nov. 20, Catalano said. HUPD does not believe this incident, which occurred at the Holden Green, another graduate student housing, is connected to Monday’s incident.
Victoria A. Shannon ’03, a first-year law student living off campus, said safety issues are more prevalent at the College than at the Law School.
“Since we’re all adults, in a ‘world-is-cruel’ sense, we’re going to lock our doors,” said Shannon. “I feel like the College is more trusting of people they don’t know.”
—Staff writer Robin M. Peguero can be reached at email@example.com
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