By Alex Tsai
On Sunday, a sophomore undergraduate filed a police complaint against an unidentified middle-aged man who she said had been following and harassing her and other female students in the Cecil H. Green Library, Tresidder Memorial Union and CoHo over the past week.
Witnesses described the perpetrator as a dark-blonde haired, slightly balding man in his 40s, with a European accent and light eyes.
According to the student, whose name has been withheld to protect her privacy, she filed a complaint following two separate encounters with the man, the first of which occurred early last week at Tresidder Memorial Union, and the second of which took place on Sunday at Green Library. Several other female students have revealed that they have also felt harassed by the man on separate occasions at Green Library and CoHo. The earliest known encounter with the man was on a night the week before Thanksgiving break, where one junior undergraduate female said she felt “put off” by his behavior in CoHo.
The sophomore student filed the complaint with the help of a librarian at the Bing Wing in Green Library. Because the man technically had not committed a crime, the student’s complaint read, “this person is making us uncomfortable.”
According to the student who filed the complaint, she spoke directly with members of the police department, who said they would “work to do what they could to make students feel safe,” possibly by preventing the man from accessing campus. The student was instructed to call 911 if she spots the man on campus again.
Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) spokesperson Bill Larson declined to comment on the specific case due to the ongoing nature of the investigation, but he emphasized the measures SUDPS has in place to ensure student safety on campus.
“Whenever possible, we regularly patrol all buildings and facilities on campus,” he wrote in an email to The Daily. “We also work closely with all building and facilities managers in ensuring student safety. Since safety and security is a shared responsibility of all community members, we encourage students to immediately report suspicious activity or behavior to Public Safety by dialing 911.”
More and more female students have become aware of the man’s presence on campus through word of mouth and via circulation of his picture in group chats of dorms and organizations on campus. Despite the heightened awareness of this community concern, the University has yet to issue an AlertSU update notifying the community about the potential danger, possibly because the report is still pending review.
On a night three weeks ago, two female junior undergraduates noticed the man in CoHo around 9 p.m.
“He was holding this plush Minnie Mouse toy and stroking it, and he had a book with text in it that he was furiously scribbling over top of,” one of the students said. “And then the strangest thing was that there was a packet of raw meat on the table that was open, and a piece of the raw meat was missing.”
“He was also staring at us,” the second student added. “We promptly felt uncomfortable and left.”
The first student said she saw him lingering in CoHo on a few separate occasions in the weeks following her first encounter with him. She described his behavior as off-putting.
The student who filed the police report first encountered the man on a night early last week at LaIR –– office hours for introductory CS106 classes –– in Tresidder Union. She was working at a table at Starbucks facing the window with her computer science partner, who is also a sophomore female undergraduate.
“He was wandering around looking at people for 45 minutes,” she said. “He walked outside, and I’m at the table against the window facing out, and he comes up two feet from the window and just stares into my eyes.”
When she made eye contact with the man peering at her from outside the window, she said, he “laughed and just kept staring.”
She and her partner then moved to the Union Square sitting area in Tresidder. The man subsequently came inside and continued to loiter.
“He’d sit at empty tables and just lean back and stare at us and other people,” the student said. “I would literally make eye contact with him and he wouldn’t look away. He didn’t have a book, backpack, computer or phone –– he was literally just sitting there to look at people.”
The student said she felt “freaked out,” but safely walked home with her class partner once she confirmed he did not intend to follow them back to her dorm.
On Sunday afternoon, the same student was confronted by the man again in the Jonsson Social Sciences Reading Room in Green Library.
She was sitting at a table of four with two of her other friends, also sophomore female students. When the seat adjacent to the student became free, the man sat down in the empty seat.
“I looked up, and it was this guy, and I immediately freaked out,” she said. “So I texted my friends, ‘I have to go, I’m sorry, this guy’s been freaking me out recently.’ And I started to pack up, and he looks at me, and he has a book. And the book just says ‘Loving’ on the front –– ‘The Loving,’ maybe, but I know it said ‘Loving’ in big letters –– it was the title. He looked at the book, gestured to it, opened it and just looked at me.”
When the student began to pack up and leave, the man asked, “How are you? How’s your day? Where are you going? No, stay, where are you going? You shouldn’t leave.” The student did not reply and moved upstairs to the Lane Reading Room.
The student ran into another friend in Lane Reading Room. Her friend said she had been similarly harassed by the same man, who came up to her and rubbed her arm after staring at her and following her in the library for an extended period of time.
When the student reported the man’s behavior to the Bing Wing librarian, the librarian said they recognized the man from previous instances of loitering and suggested that the student file a complaint with the police department.
Meanwhile, her two friends remained at the table in the Johnsson Reading Room. The man continued to linger at the table.
“He kept staring at me while I was trying to work, and it was really unsettling because he literally would not take his eyes off of me,” one friend said.
She added that she and her friend grew increasingly uncomfortable and decided to leave the library.
“I suggested to my friend that we walk to the girls’ bathroom because I was scared that he was going to follow us out of the library and follow us wherever we went after that,” she said. “So I wanted to go to the bathroom to space him out because he couldn’t follow us in there.”
The man followed the two girls to the girls’ bathroom but stopped when they went into the bathroom. They waited in the bathroom for 10 minutes. When they exited, the man had left.
The girls immediately went to the library circulation front desk to notify a librarian about the uncomfortable encounter. One of the students also gave the librarian a picture she had taken of the man.
This report will be updated with further comments from Library Communications and SUDPS.
This report has been updated to include comments from two junior undergraduates who first spotted the man at CoHo the week before Thanksgiving break. The report has also been updated to note that the University has yet to issue an AlertSU update. Due to safety concerns, the report has also been updated to grant anonymity to an undergraduate student who encountered the man in Green Library.
Contact Alex Tsai at aotsai ‘at’ stanford.edu.