On October 8, between 6:20 and 6:45 pm, it is believed that two suspects entered Bray Hall by “piggybacking” on a student as they used their own card to enter the building.
The first suspect was described as a black male in his late teens or early twenties, six feet tall, weighing approximately 180 pounds with facial hair around the jaw line. He was reportedly wearing black sweatpants, a baseball cap, and a hoodie. Suspect number two was also a black male around the same age. He was estimated at 5’6”, weighing around 150 pounds. This suspect had similar facial hair and was wearing dark sweatpants, a white down jacket, and a baseball cap.
The first incident occurred when the suspect entered an unlocked room claiming he needed to return notes to the roommate who was not in the room at the time. The suspect left, and a short while later, the roommate returned to find his backpack was missing. The backpack contained his laptop, wallet, credit cards, and other valuable items. The victim reported he did not know the other party.
In the second incident, the suspect was approached by the students whose room he was standing outside of. The students passed by him into their room only to find the other suspect sitting at a desk. The suspect claimed to be waiting for another party, with whom he supposedly took Data Structures. After the suspects left, the students discovered that several watches were missing.
Shortly after these incidents occurred, the missing credit card was used on Hoosick Street at two different establishments, including Wal-Mart.
“The robberies just made me a bit more cautious,” said Hannah Rabinowitz ’18 who is currently living in Bray Hall. “My roommate and I never leave our door open when we’re not in the room.” Many students alongside Rabinowitz have taken other precautionary measures to keep themselves and their belongings safe.
Public Safety wants to remind students to be conscious of their decisions and to err on the side of caution. They are imploring students to keep their rooms locked at all times and urging them to not let unknown people “piggyback” into the residence halls. Public Safety also advises students not to walk alone, especially at night, and to report any suspicious activity to Public safety immediately. They also want to remind students of the services Public Safety offers to all students, including, but not limited to, the personal safety escort service, the emergency call boxes, safety education and training, and the RPI Alert system.
The Rensselaer staff is also taking measures to keep the campus safe. As of Friday, October 10, universal access to the residence halls has been revoked. This means students only have key card access to the residence halls they live in. This is intended to reduce the chances of an unknown person entering the residence halls. While most students understand why Residence Life has taken these actions, they also are finding it to be an inconvenience.
“This is going to make life very difficult for everyone,” Rabinowitz said regarding the topic. According to Reddit user bluemellophone, “… this policy reversal will most likely result in the opposite effect of more students piggy-backing in to residence halls. Once this becomes the norm, it will only make it easier for non-students to gain access.”
Athletes and upperclassmen living on the east side of campus have expressed frustration. Most varsity practices are late in the evening, so Commons Dining Hall is closed by the time they get out. This leaves the BARH Dining Hall as their only plausible option for dinner, being the dining hall that stays open the latest. Upperclassmen living in Rennselear Apartment Housing Projects or Stacwyck apartments also rely on the BARH dining hall due to its conveniently close location. However, without universal access, this option has been taken away and caused a lot of problems.
Dana Robes ’17, a student on the varsity track and field team expressed her frustration with this limitation. “Luckily for us, we had a BARH resident on the team who could let us in for dinner, but that won’t always be the case. When we left, there was a group of athletes outside that zand had nowhere else to eat and no one to let them in.” Other students, especially upperclassmen, have expressed their annoyance saying that in the winter, it will be very inconvenient to walk from RAHPs or Stacwyck to Commons for meals, especially when pressed for time.
While it may be frustrating for some, the Residence Life staff would like students to keep in mind that their top priority is keeping the students safe. They will do what they feel is necessary to ensure that the comfort and safety of campus is restored.
Access to BARH or other residence halls can be requested from ResLife.
If you have any information regarding these robberies, please contact public safety as soon as possible. Public Safety can be reached at 518-276-6611.