Student Robbed in Tupper Hall; Misidentified Student Detained

Last Wednesday at approximately 3:00pm, a resident of Tupper Hall was robbed and held at knifepoint.

The assailant is described as a dark-skinned, moderate to dark toned, 6 feet-6’2″, slender to average build, age 18-22. He was described as wearing a puffy black horizontal-stitched parka, blue jeans and boots, according to UVM Police Detective Tim Bilodeau.

“We have a bunch of leads,” said Bilodeau. “We’re trying to get everything sorted out right now.”

The investigation doesn’t end there. Later that same afternoon, the police mis-identified a female student as the suspect, after handcuffing her and detaining her.

“After the robbery, the police sent out a bulletin to the campus to be on the lookout for the suspect,” said UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera.

“Sometime later that afternoon, a UVM police officer spotted from a distance someone who fit the description. At that point, they radioed in to another officer.

“They approached the person, drew their weapons, handcuffed the person, and after realizing it was the wrong person, immediately released them.”

The mis-identified suspect was actually a female, and according to those who know the woman, is far shorter than the assailant is described.

Concern has spread throughout the University, especially in the A.L.A.N.A. community. President Fogel attempted to settle the minds of those concerned last Thursday in an email to the entire UVM community.

“While not prejudging the outcome of the investigation of police conduct, we all understand that the detention of an innocent student raises serious questions about the campus climate for persons of color,” said Fogel in the email.

“I want to reaffirm the long-standing commitment of the University of Vermont to providing a safe and secure learning environment for all members of the campus community.

“In addition to reviewing both the detention of the student and the security of the residence halls, we will enlist the help of external experts to review and enhance all relevant police procedures and training programs, particularly focusing on those that address racial and ethnic issues and best practices for law enforcement in an academic community.

“At the same time, I am reaching out to our students, faculty, and staff-and especially to members of UVM’s A.L.A.N.A. community-to promote action-oriented dialogue aimed at the creation of a campus climate supportive of true diversity and of our shared commitment to respect, integrity, innovation, openness, justice, and responsibility.”

According to Corredera, Fogel has personally apologized to the student. “He has apologized, and has the deepest and most sincere regret for the student.”

The President’s office has been working on looking at the security procedures along with the procedures of the police.

Along with the email sent out to all students, Fogel has met with members of the A.L.A.N.A. community last Thursday night to discuss the issue.

“Fogel is looking at security procedures, to increase safety, on campus,” said Corredera.

“We’re going to review the situation currently in place, to see if it’s adequate and appropriate, and to see if there are steps to improve.

“Meanwhile, there is an effort to remind students of the role they can play in the effectiveness in security.

“It goes beyond locked doors, it’s also student behavior.”

On the issue of police services, Corredera said the administration is looking at procedures.

“We will enlist the help of external experts to review and enhance all relevant police procedures and training programs, particularly focusing on those that address racial and ethnic issues and best practices for law enforcement in an academic community.

“If the best practices are not under way, the appropriate actions will be taken on the outcome of the investigation.”