Security and recognition of incidents in dorms to increase

University to take precautions after student caught videotaping in women’s bathroom

Story by Meghan Hosely, Copy Editor

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story and headline did not fully or accurately reflect the disposition of the case against Michael J. Somers. The Spectator regrets this error and apologizes for it. The writer of the story, Meghan Hosely, did not write the headline.

After two incidents regarding strangers lurking in campus dorms, the housing office is taking more precautions.

It plans bigger than sending out emails every time this occurs on campus. To nix the possibility of a member of the opposite gender going into the wrong bathroom, the housing office plans to bring this issue to the Residence Hall Association on campus to see if locks can be installed for each bathroom.

Police arrested Michael J. Somers in May 2013 after a girl caught him with his camera pointed at her from the bottom of the shower curtains. According to the court case, The State of Wisconsin vs. Michael J. Sommers, he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of invasion of privacy, while the prosecutor dismissed two other counts of that plus four felony counts of capturing a nude image without the person’s consent.  On another felony count of that, they deferred prosecution provided Somers stays out of trouble through May 2016.

 Murray isn’t usually where students reside after the university closes. Associate Director of Housing and Residence Life Deborah Newman said people were in Murray because water was completely turned off for maintenance in Towers Hall.

“Murray has a separate hot water system,” Newman said. “So we needed to set up some alternative shower facilities, and Murray is where we did that for that time period.”

Newman said the authorities found no evidence after the arrest, and he was in custody after a day and a half of suspected activity. This is a fairly fast amount of time, according to Newman, and because of this, the university didn’t have much time to send out information to the students.

“I think because it’s not a common thing, we weren’t sure of what to do, (but) because it has happened, we’ll have a better idea of what to do next time,” she said.

Which is why this past spring, when a male student was found lurking in a Towers’ women’s bathroom, a campus-wide email was sent out to students within the next day. Hall directors made sure to specify the consequences if someone was found in the opposite sex’s bathrooms.

The logistics of this project are still in the planning phase, as it was decided at the end of last year’s academic year to bring this issue to the table at RHA meetings. While the idea of locked bathrooms may seem odd, the concept is actually common for many campuses.

These changes could happen within the next year, but Newman said if students get more involved with the issue, changes would be seen sooner. The best way to get involved in this issue is to express any opinions through RHA.

Newman said there are two ways people could participate in whether or not locked bathrooms become a part of UW-Eau Claire’s campus. Students could come to RHA meetings, which are at 7 p.m. in Towers basement social lounge. However, Newman said the best way to voice any opinion is through the RHA representative who is a part of any hall council on campus.

“Certainly anyone could go to an RHA meeting, they’re welcome to go to that,” she said. “However, there is limited space, so if one hundred people showed up, it would be hard to give that feedback.”

Morgan Goldammer, a sophomore living in Murray, said she was surprised something like this would happen, but nothing should go unnoticed.

“You want to feel safe, so just tell people when that stuff happens,” Goldammer said. “Have someone report it, send out an email. Even if you feel a little creeped out, tell someone.”