Unidentified individuals knock on student doors

The unidentified men were spotted lingering around Calvert Hall knocking on women’s doors


Steven Cox

Unidentified men walk away from the lower level of Calvert Hall on the night of November 11th.

Just after midnight on Nov. 11, the Residential Life Office received a report that two unidentified men were knocking on the doors of residents’ rooms in the area of Calvert Residence Hall, looking for someone named ‘Maddie.’ Multiple women living in the residence hall reported the incident to their Residential Assistant (RA), some student accounts claimed that the men were only knocking on women’s doors.

For Sophie Radi, first-year, a knock came to her door at 12:30 a.m. as she was getting ready, which she assumed was from her suitemate trying to get in through her room.

“When I looked through the peephole, it’s pretty blurry, so I just saw someone sitting on the ground and thought, ‘Okay, that must be her.’ When I opened my door, it was just some random guy sitting on the ground, and then he pointed to the left, and another guy walked by. The guy who walked by was the one who was talking to me the whole time. I tried to stay far because they weren’t wearing masks,” said Radi. “So the guy is talking to me, he says, ‘Are you Maddie?’ I said ‘no,’ and he said, ‘Do you know where Maddie is?’ I said, ‘No, but I know for sure that there’s no Maddie in this residence hall.'”

Shortly after, students let their RAs know of the incident, who then conducted a sweep as per procedure. Radi sent a photo of the men as they were walking away from the residence hall to the class of 2024 GroupMe chat, which was talking about the incident and different students’ interactions with the unknown visitors.

“They were talking about you know, ‘If you hear people knocking on your door, don’t open it,’ and this was around, you know 12:30 or midnight. First of all, there shouldn’t even be people, you know, knocking at that hour, but on top of it, there’s so many other factors you’re putting in here. I mean, you could say if they were someone’s guest, well there’s COVID,” said Steven Cox, first-year and Student Government Association senator. “… Nobody recognized them, I guess, and obviously, you can’t tell from the picture, but they think it was someone from off-campus.”

Various accounts of the incident were shared in the report to Residential Life as well as in last Wednesday’s SGA meeting and online on both the TU Parent Facebook page and class of 2024 GroupMe chat. The identity of the two men remains unknown to Residential Life.

“We’ve discussed the need for some enhanced messaging to residents about the fact that we’re an open campus, and the need for all of us to be aware of our surroundings,” wrote Rachel Boaz-Toppel, assistant director for Residential Education, in an email interview. “The students did the exact right thing by reaching out to their RAs. If there’s a concern about safety, students can always go straight to TUPD as well, since they are the trained professionals we all rely on for safety concerns.”

For some students, last week’s incident shone a light on potential safety concerns.

“Honestly, I wasn’t that concerned before. I mean, I had a little bit of a concern, just knowing that I was in an outdoor dorm and that people didn’t need cards to get to my door, but I was never scared to walk to my room at night or anything like that. I usually just lock my door with the deadbolt lock when I go to sleep and stuff like that,” said Radi. “So I mean, this instance, it wasn’t scary in the moment, but after hearing that they were only knocking on girls’ doors — I am a little more aware when I’m walking around at nighttime, and sometimes I FaceTime my friends when I’m walking to my room by myself, or something like that.”

One of the greater areas of concern was brought up by Cox at last week’s SGA meeting: The hanging of student names on the doors of their residence.

“I think definitely something that would help mitigate a little is taking the names off of the doors, because to me that seems like your RA is the only one that really needs to know where you are or where your dorm is. They have the information for that and otherwise, you know, I think if you’re trying to preserve privacy, in some senses, it would be better not to have that, especially in those open-air dorms,” said Cox.

“For this same reason, probably decades ago, we stopped putting up last names and then names altogether,” wrote David Tuttle, dean of students and associate vice president for Student Life, in an email interview. “But students would post their names, and then after a while, I think it just became custom again.”

The hanging of nametags, however, is meant to do more than just label student rooms — they’re also meant to create a sense of community and belonging.

“Name tags are used as a community building tool. It’s important for a sense of belonging that when students, especially first-years, arrive on campus, they see their name on their door, and know that this is their space. RAs work hard to make sure that each student’s name is on the door as they want their name shared,” wrote Boaz-Toppel. “At the start of next semester, we’ll make sure that residents know that they are welcome to take down their door tags if they’d rather not have one up. This has always been the case, but we could be more explicitly clear that students have complete agency around keeping them up or not.”

It is not confirmed whether or not any change will be made to the name tags in residence halls in the near future.

“I was at the meeting as the SGA advisor and followed up with Residential Life staff but didn’t learn anything new. The director and I discussed whether or not nametags should be posted on doors. At the SGA meeting, I think the inference was that this is how the two people determined which doors to knock on,” wrote Tuttle. “We talked it through, and Res Life will discuss it in the future. It is helpful to have these names up for our students, and I would hate to see one report lead to changes, but they will discuss.”