Since the Wayland House break-in last December, building resident Lena Henderson ’25 has had to reassess her perception of safety on campus.
Nearly two months ago, Thony Greene was arrested and charged with willful trespass after reportedly breaking into Wayland House. Greene, who has a history of trespassing on University property, was caught living in Wayland unlawfully for an unknown amount of time and was spotted in students’ rooms, The Herald previously reported.
Wayland resident Sherry Zhang ’25, whose room Greene broke into, said she was shocked and unsettled by the incident. “I couldn’t believe that it actually happened,” she said.
"I don’t even feel safe going to the bathroom without locking the door,” Henderson said, reflecting on how her behavior around residence halls has changed since the incident.
In the wake of the break-in, the Department of Public Safety has bolstered its security protocols by providing lighted vests to DPS officers and implementing routine lock check-ins and community walks by community coordinators in residence halls, according to a Dec. 15 DPS email to the University community.
‘More communication is needed’
Following the break-in, DPS sent an update to Wayland residents on Dec. 5 “about a situation that had been addressed initially, with an active investigation then launched,” Rodney Chatman, vice president for campus safety, wrote in an email to The Herald.
“DPS sends timely warning messages to the campus (community) when there’s an active threat,” but handled the situation at Wayland House differently because the suspect “was apprehended and in custody immediately," Chatman wrote.
Zhang said there was a general lack of communication from DPS throughout the break-in investigation and expressed continued anxieties about feeling unsafe in her dorm.
While DPS “came and helped,” Zhang said that no one called her after the incident, leaving her with limited insight into the case. Zhang added that she found most of her information on the proceedings through social media platforms like Sidechat.
“All we knew about (the investigation) was rumors,” Henderson said. “In the future, this process needs to be revised (and) people need to be informed. More communication is needed.”
Chatman said that “nobody was asked to withhold verified updates about the circumstances," but Wayland residents were advised “to avoid fueling unfounded speculation and rumor” about the situation.
“Each call Brown DPS receives requires its own unique response based upon a wide variety of factors," Chatman wrote. He added that DPS provides a quick response, supports students, conducts investigations and offers many resources to protect the "safety of all campus community members and visitors."
New security measures
DPS has continued to work with campus departments to implement new safety measures, including readjusting where it deploys security staff on campus to more strategically respond to issues and implementing routine residence hall check-ins, according to a Dec. 15 email to the University community.
“DPS officers are spending more time around the residence halls … particularly at night,” Chatman wrote. “Community members may have noticed by now the extra stationary patrols by our residence halls.”
DPS is also continuing “to engage in discussion about the potential for whether additional measures might strengthen safety on campus even further,” he added
ResLife staff are “here to help,” Amanda Surgens, director of residential operations and strategic planning, wrote in an email to The Herald. She urged students to seek out members of her staff who can be easily identified by “departmental-branded clothing as well as a name badge.”
Chatman encouraged students to engage in "three main behaviors … that can make an immediate impact on safety,” including avoiding propping open doors and immediately reporting unsafe conditions to ResLife staff or Public Safety.
“Call us first before engaging others,” he wrote.
According to Chatman, the Wayland case “is still working its way through the criminal justice system.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the date of DPS's initial email to Wayland residents. The Herald regrets the error.
Chinmayi Rajaram is a staff writer for The Brown Daily Herald. She likes that one quote about the peeling paint and the other one about oranges.