Security Issues have Students on Edge


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale

On Jan. 7, an intruder was detained in the Quad by Public Safety.

Angela Ferrigno, Staff Writer

  On the night of Friday Jan. 7, 2022, an intruder in the quad was detained by Public Safety under the charge of trespassing. The unknown suspect, with no prior Villanova affiliation, gained entrance to both Sullivan and Sheehan Hall and began roaming the halls, knocking on the doors of many residents.

Although the exact way in which the intruder entered Sullivan and Sheehan Halls is unknown, it can be assumed he entered behind a resident who had scanned into the building with their Wildcard. This security breach is upsetting and needs to be addressed by students and the University alike.

“The doors were secure in the quad at the time of the incident,” said David Tedjeske, Chief-of-Police and Director of Public Safety at Villanova University in an interview with The Villanovan. “It’s likely that the person tailgated behind somebody.”

Tedjeske explained that the person who was detained was not a Villanova student, and students were not in immediate danger because of him.

“This individual was a high school student and wasn’t anybody that we actually deemed to be a threat,” he said. “There were other reports of another older male that just happened to be a faculty member in Bartley who just happened to be on campus at the time.”

As the trespasser was talking with students, he asked questions regarding lost objects. One of the women he spoke to was sophomore Jackie Thomas.

“The only way I can describe the whole experience is bizarre,” Thomas said. “When I opened my door, he asked if I had seen a gold crescent-shaped ring with green and white stones and was really insistent that I look around for it.”

Thomas is just one of at least three other residents that spoke with the intruder. She was highly concerned about her interaction.

“I was honestly too confused to feel threatened at the time, but in hindsight it is really unsettling to think about what could have happened and the fact that he was able to get into the building at all,” she said.

It was alarming for students to be part of an event like this. Although scanning into the building is usually necessary to gain access, it is not the case all the time. As a sophomore living in Sullivan Hall, I at times find that the door to the building is unlocked throughout the day. While this provides easier access for the residents, it also provides easy access for intruders.

The same can be said about the entrances to campus. Security guards monitor the people who enter campus, but it can be hard to differentiate the true intentions of an outsider on campus. What is going to stop a possibly dangerous intruder from posing as an Uber Eats driver and gaining entrance onto campus?

The Villanovan asked what measures Public Safety was taking to protect residents after this incident.

“We are continually making improvements and enhancements to our security systems,” Tedjeske said. “Over the last year, in fact, one of the things we’ve done is add automated license plate readers at the gates. The guard at the gate will be able to, in real time, see if the vehicle is authorized.”

Tedjeske went on to explain that Villanova being an open campus does pose some difficulty.

“Unfortunately we are an open campus,” Tedjeske said. “People can park and walk on campus and tailgate behind people who are going into buildings.”

Tedjeske mentioned the importance of not holding the door for strangers and listed several resources meant to protect the safety of students, including Nova Safe and communicating with Public Safety.

However, an important aspect of this event is the timing of the intrusion. This event occurred the week before second semester classes began, meaning that the overwhelming majority of students on campus at the time were women participating in Panhellenic sorority recruitment. Recruitment is widely publicized on social media prior to the event and sororities announce that they are coming back to campus. The public has access to this information, which means anyone could know that the campus is to be populated by hundreds of women in the residence halls.

The Villanovan asked what plans Public Safety had to protect women participating in Panhellenic Recruitment upon their return next year.

“Probably next year, to look where the concentration was of the students who were back for sorority recruitment – where were most of them living,” Tedjeske said. “I imagine the quad is a popular place […] it would be easy to focus our patrol efforts in those areas.”

Although this is an isolated incident, it has made me and other Villanova students feel uncomfortable and unsafe. There are those who question the University’s ability to protect them.

The Villanovan asked Tedjeske what he would say to students who remain unsettled in the wake of this intrusion.

“It’s always unsettling when something like this happens, especially when you see somebody getting led out in handcuffs,” he replied. “You just don’t know who was in the halls and what kind of person you were dealing with. Nothing in what happened here suggested that this person was interested in anything other than talking to some Villanova students.”

The next steps taken by Villanova’s administration must be strategic and thoughtful in order to protect the community we call home. Going forward, it will be important for students to continuously watch out for each other and remain cautious. The safety of the student body must always be the priority.