As I was sitting in Olin at about 8:05 on Sunday night, minding my own business—which was, at the time, a Physics problem set—a loud, authoritative voice broke the usually monastic silence of the second floor. Initially, I was pretty annoyed. I’m having enough trouble applying Kepler’s laws of planetary motion without your help, you selfish jerk. Come on—THIS IS A LIBRARY!
As I stewed in my anger, I realized that this wasn’t a case of a couple of idiots talking too loudly—this was something serious. I got up and walked over to the door from the second floor stacks to the stairwell, where the commotion was. When I saw a group of three or four Public Safety officers standing over a young man in a chair, I stopped worrying that my laptop would be stolen in my absence, and my Wesleying blogger’s instinct took over: I started eavesdropping.
The officers were grilling the guy who, at this point, I thought was a student. They wanted him to take them to his car. However, the man seemed to have ‘forgotten’ where he had parked it. Then, they started to ask about a silver digital camera. Apparently he had been taking pictures of something he shouldn’t have been. By now, the man, an average looking guy, was hunched over in his seat. When he spoke, his flat, unexpressive voice delivered short, terse sentences. He sounded trapped.
As I listened, it became increasingly obvious that the man was in trouble. The officers started saying crime-movie things like “If you help us now, it’ll be easier for you later.” Then, suddenly, they left.
I immediately started to think of things that he could have been photographing: a secret meeting? Confidential documents? No—my life is not a Jason Bourne movie.
If only it was. According to Argus coverage, the man I saw is named Michael McKenna. On Sunday night, he entered Olin Library and, with his silver digital camera, attempted to take pictures of at least one girl using the bathroom on the third floor. A girl saw him trying to take a picture of her and enlisted the help of a friend to identify him. They called P-Safe who, in minutes, were on the scene with officers from the Middletown Police Department. Shortly thereafter, officers apprehended McKenna in the second floor stacks and then, with me listening in, they began to question him. He was arrested and will go to court.
As far as I know, this is the second case of criminal voyeurism at Wesleyan this academic year. On September 11, a Wesleyan sophomore was caught taking pictures of a fellow student in the shower. According to Dave Meyer, Director of Public Safety, in the aforementioned Argus report, “This is the first incident in recent memory of voyeurism involving a non-student.”
While it’s reassuring that this isn’t a regular occurrence, I wish Meyer hadn’t had to qualify his statement. I wish he had been able to stop after “voyeurism.” No one should have to worry about being spied on in the shower, in the bathroom, or really anywhere. Whether it’s perpetrated by a student or a man with a silver digital camera, voyeurism is a shocking violation of the victim’s privacy, a breach of trust in our Wesleyan community, and, of course, criminal.
So let’s just not do it, Ok? Great. Stay classy, Wesleyan.