Despite Rising Incidents, Library Violations Sparse
By LINDLEY ESTES
While the rate of reported crime in Simpson Library has increased since last semester, instances of illegal activity remain rare.
According to Mark Sandor, executive director of university police and security services, campus police receives approximately four or five calls throughout the school year from the library, generally students calling about non-university visitors.
“On occasion, the call may involve a student feeling ‘uncomfortable’ about a non-university user, either due to the person’s appearance or quirky behavior,” Sandor said. “In the past, there has been an occasional complaint of an individual viewing pornography on a computer in violation of university & state policy. It’s my understanding that the library staff has been working with IT staff to restrict access to the network.”
The need to restrict network access came on Oct. 28, 2009 when a library patron was charged with possession of pornography; he was watching it on a first-floor computer, and was issued a trespass warning.
Another non-university user was reported on Jan. 29, 2009, when campus police were called to the Simpson Library for a suspicious person without pants on. This person happened to be 37-year-old Mika Engelhardt.
When asked why he did not have pants on, Engelhardt responded that his pants did not fit properly. He was also issued a trespass warning.
Sandor said that typically the police formally ban one or two non-university patrons per school year “and give verbal warning to another three to four.”
This semester’s reported crimes include assault and battery on campus walk at Simpson Library, grand larceny from the building and trespassing. All three of these incidents occurred at night. Only the last case has been cleared by arrest.
During the fall semester one count of vandalism was reported. The case is still pending. The other reported incident in the fall semester was possession of pornography.
Library staff sees vandalism most commonly, but the cases are rarely solved.
“Unless we catch vandals in the act, or they leave some sort of name behind, we cannot officially determine who made the infractions,” Sheridan Sayles, circulation desk aid and UMW sophomore, said. “Students are generally at fault in vandalism, and also take part in sexual crimes, though guest patrons and members of the public are often times also at fault.”
However, outsiders are not the only perpetrators of crime.
Some infractions that do not necessarily seem illegal have gotten students in trouble in the past. Writing on the outside walls with chalk is considered vandalism and can be punishable by law.
Infringing on someone’s right to study in a quiet, stable atmosphere by being too loud or distracting is also punishable by law.
Police officers check on the library throughout the day and evening as they conduct campus patrol activities. Also, security officers are always on duty in the evening as well as the hours of operation on Saturdays.
Students feel that Simpson Library is a safe place to study and few have witnessed suspicious activity.
“I think they are doing a pretty good job with security,” sophomore Kelly Whelan said. “I’ve never felt unsafe.”