Peeping incidents worry residents of UC Berkeley dormitories

Anna Vignet/Senior Staff
After peeping incidents in the residence halls, panels were installed in the bathrooms.

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A number of peeping incidents have hit the UC Berkeley dormitories over the past few months, raising safety concerns among residents.

At least five peeping incidents — mainly in Davidson and Cunningham Halls in Unit 2 — occurred between Feb. 16 and March 22 when several residents reported people peeping from gaps under the shower stalls or holding cell phones over the top of the stall door.

On March 22 between 10 and 11 p.m., a female was showering on the fifth floor of Davidson Hall when she saw a cell phone held over the top of a shower stall door recording her, according to UCPD Capt. Margo Bennett. The suspect left after being discovered, according to Bennett.

According to Sherry Leung, a resident on the fifth floor of Davidson, another incident occurred April 1 around 6 p.m. when she was showering alone. Leung said she saw someone holding an iPhone over the stall door when she raised her head. Bennett said UCPD has not been notified of this incident yet.

“I was kind of worried, so when I took a shower next time, I kept looking up,” Leung said.

Similar incidents were reported Feb. 16, Feb. 24, March 16 and March 18 in Ida Sproul Hall in Unit 3, as well as Unit 2’s Davidson Hall and Unit 2’s Cunningham Hall, respectively.

In the Feb. 16 incident, Bennett said a suspect was detained for allegedly peeping in the bathroom at Ida Sproul Hall but not prosecuted.

Police said they could not say if the incidents were related but are currently investigating.

These incidents have led to a community meeting held in Unit 2, where staff from UC Berkeley’s Residential Students and Services Program and UCPD Officer Quincy Ruffin discussed the incidents and safety measures with concerned residents.

Ruffin recommended that students not go to the bathrooms by themselves, to notify police right away if an incident has occurred and to communicate with other members in the dormitory.

There were six peeping incidents reported to UCPD in 2011, according to Bennett. The six incidents last year all took place between January and April.

“We do not have enough information at this time, but … over past years, we see that in February and March, we have peeping incidents that occur in residence halls.”

The Residential Students and Services Program has also started looking at different prototypes to remodel the bathrooms to improve safety, according to Marty Takimoto, director of marketing communications for Residential and Student Services Programs.

“One of the main challenges is how can we cover that space with the most material possible while fitting into fire regulations and providing enough ventilation in the showers,” Takimoto said.

Panels that reduce the gap between the ceiling and the top of the shower door were installed on the fifth floor of Davidson this week. Pending the fire marshal’s approval, this prototype may be added to all halls in Unit 2, according to Dan Ocampo, director of residential living.

Leung said she felt safer after the panels were installed on the shower doors.

“We are making this a priority for safety’s sake,” Takimoto said. “(Peeping is) definitely an infringement on residents’ privacy.”