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Dougan House on South Green, March 24, 2024, in Athens.

Students demand restroom locks in residence halls after voyeurism incident

Nearly a month after a report of voyeurism in Dougan House, students are calling for the university to take the initiative to add locks in residence hall showers to protect the safety and privacy of its students.

The incident sparked immediate outrage, primarily among students, who voiced their concerns through a petition one day after the reported crime. Since its inception, the petition has garnered nearly 1,200 signatures and prompted the Student Senate to develop an initiativerequiring locks on all residence hall bathroom doors. 

Of the last nine alerts from OUPD’s crime and emergency alert system, sevenwere in relation to sexual violence.  

About a week after the incident, the Senate passed the initiative, calling on the university administration to develop a plan for installation. Women’s Affairs Commissioner Lucy Becker said the Senate was dedicated to taking timely action on the issue and hopes the university follows suit. 

“We wanted to make a statement on it as soon as possible,” Residence Life Commissioner Mae Thomas said. “We wanted both students and faculty to know that this was a priority.”

Although there are currently no changes to updating the restrooms, Thomas said she is discussing the legislation with Housing and Residence Life to figure out the next steps. She said distributing funds to add locks will be a gradual process, but she and her commission are willing to make it eventually happen.

As of March 11, Director of Housing and Residence Life Jneanne Hacker said the immediate strategy the university took to combat the issue for students residing in the back south, consisting of Ewing, Wray, True, Dougan and Hoover House, is having one key that unlocks students’ assigned mod door and their individual room door. The same key does both functions. 

Isabel Gluckert, a sophomore studying art therapy, who lives in back south, said she was concerned that male students had easy access to female restrooms via mod doors, which until recently could be unlocked with any resident key card. 

Gluckert’s resident advisor, or RA, recommended if anyone is uncomfortable showering in the residence hall, they should go to Ping Recreation Center. While this is a short-term solution, Gluckert said she feels like Ping is a safe place to use the restroom. 

Hacker said after several weeks of deliberation with students, Housing and Residence Life is working with Facilities Management and Safety to establish a long-term and feasible implementation of several student suggestions. 

Among the recommendations provided by students are increased electronic swipe access points or parameters within the residence halls and showers with doors as opposed to curtains. 

However, Gluckert said the only communication she received about the incident came from the university’s crime and emergency alert through email, and she hasn’t received any emails from the university asking for her opinion regarding the incident. 

Thomas said the new residence hall in South Green will have shower doors with locks. In each private restroom, there will be a shower and toilet. She said Housing and Residence Life want to add locks on the showers, but it’s mainly about renovating the older residence halls. 

“If a hall is being renovated anyway, it could be renovated with bathroom locks,” Thomas said. 

That might take a bit more work (to renovate the older dorms), but I think that's doable.”

Gluckert said the best solution to avoid similar future issues is adding locks to the restrooms. 

Thomas said she’s heard students have felt uncomfortable with the gaps in the shower curtains, and she hopes the new showers make students feel comfortable. 

“When we passed the bill, the response to what happened was nothing short of outrage,” Thomas said. “If we are able to address that problem by giving people a safe space, that would make campus, in general, a safer place to be.”

Hacker said Housing and Residence Life is committed to the initiative, and it’s important to them to ensure they’re responding to students’ immediate concerns. 

However, Becker expressed her frustration with the university’s lack of intervention. She expressed her disappointment and said the university needed to put an immediate plan in place for students living in Dougan House. 

“I wish that there would be more immediate action for the women in back south,” Becker said. “I know lots of people who talked about still not feeling safe." 

Ohio University Police Department Staff Lieutenant Tim Ryan said he doesn’t see a problem adding locks to all the residence hall restrooms. He said it makes sense to add the privacy function as long as the right people have the keys to the locks.

“We start by believing, and we want to hear from victims in the community,” Ryan said. “We know that (sexual violence) is an underreported crime, and there's a lot of barriers to reporting. We want to be seen as an approachable place that you can come and make the report.”

Similarly, Gluckert said every RA should have a safety key to unlock the restroom’s doors, and the RA should always have the key on them.

Hacker said Housing and Residence Life welcomes students’ feedback to ensure they are bettering their needs. She suggested students can keep each other safe by ensuring students’ bedroom and mod doors remain locked and are not propped open. 


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