UPDATE, 03/11/22 at 4:16 PM: On Friday, March 11, a second email from Drake University Housing was sent to all on-campus residential students and signed by Dean of Students Hannah Clayborne and Department of Public Safety director Scott Law. The email notes that students should have noticed an increased presence of Drake Public Safety officers in residence halls following the incident. The email also noted additional measures that are being taken to improve security in the residence halls.
“Since this incident, DPS, the Office of Residence Life, and the Dean of Students Office have been working to review current protocols and processes, including how best to support our students and their families that were directly impacted,” the email said. “We are currently in the process of contracting with a vendor to install more cameras in building entryways throughout our residence halls.”
The email also addressed how students can be active bystanders in the event of other suspicious activity occurring in the residence halls.
“Although all doors were functioning at the time of last week’s incident, if any of our students should ever notice a door is not working properly or if someone tails another resident into the building, please immediately report this to your hall’s front desk or contact DPS at 515-271-2222,” the email said.
Around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, an intruder trespassed in Goodwin-Kirk Residence Hall. The trespasser was discovered by a sophomore student behind a curtain in her room.
“He was an older man. He was walking very quietly, so I didn’t hear him open the door or walking around the room. . .” said the student, who wishes to remain anonymous. “All of a sudden, I saw a man staring at me through a crack in my curtain and I jumped out of my chair.”
The student described the man as “[reeking] of alcohol.” She told the man to get out of her room, to which the trespasser responded, “I’m looking for my friend.” Shortly after, the student was able to herd the trespasser out of her room, at which time she called Drake Public Safety.
The student reported that public safety officers made it to the scene approximately seven minutes after they hung up the phone. When public safety officers arrived, the trespasser was still in the hallway.
The student said that public safety’s response time was relatively quick. Assistant Residence Hall Coordinator Hayley Ellis and Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Residence Life Lorissa Sowden both met the student in her room to discuss her safety after the incident occurred. Despite these measures, the student feels as if more could have been done to make students aware of the intruder.
“Looking back now, I don’t know why they didn’t send a Bulldog Alert,” the student said. “That man was just hanging out in the hallway for a couple minutes. Who knows where he would have gone? Maybe he would’ve walked into another girl’s room. He could have walked into bathrooms, where people were taking showers. [Someone] could have been changing. These are our rooms.”
She also shared concerns that the decision to not issue a Bulldog Alert was “political,” as an Admitted Students Day event was occurring downstairs.
“Everybody was trying to be hush hush,” the student said. “They didn’t want to scare future students.”
The trespasser was released on account of this being their first offense, according to an email from Drake University Housing that was sent to all on-campus residential students and signed by Dean of Students Hannah Clayborne and Department of Public Safety director Scott Law.
“The individual was cited and escorted from campus by both DPS and [Des Moines Police Department],” the email said. “After assessing the situation further, DPS determined there was not an ongoing threat to the Drake community, which is why a Bulldog Alert was not sent to campus.”
The email also noted that both Drake Public Safety and the Des Moines Police Department have stepped up patrols as a response to the incident.
Since the trespassing, the student described feeling uneasy in her own room.
“I personally felt very safe in the dorms until now,” she said. “Now I’m petrified. The door is always locked. I always have my key with me. I have pepper spray on me. I’m very jumpy. . . I’m scared to leave my room to go to the bathroom.”
The student and her roommates were given the opportunity to stay at a hotel or switch rooms if they felt their safety was in jeopardy; however, they elected not to do so.
Rumors of the trespassing circulated on social media apps such as YikYak. One post indicated that the trespasser was able to enter the residence hall through a broken door. However, the email received by residential students quickly dispelled this rumor.
“As of the time of this situation last evening, and once again today, all doors have been checked and are functioning properly and securely,” the email said.
Furthermore, the email reminded residential students to not allow other individuals through the door after swiping into residence halls and to be an active bystander if they believe trespassing has occurred.
“We want our residence halls to feel like your home: safe, comfortable, fun, and secure,” the email said. “Our commitment to provide on these expectations is unwavering and we will continue to do all that we can to support and protect each one of our residents.”
The student also urged her peers to speak up if they notice something is wrong.
“Students should be looking out for each other and be willing to report unusual people in the building,” she said.
The Times-Delphic has reached out to Lorissa Sowden, Hannah Clayborne and Scott Law for comment. This story may be updated.