Connecticut College implements new policies, a response to last year’s voyeurism crisis

New London — In the wake of a voyeurism scandal, in which a former student has been charged with recording hundreds of videos of women in dorm showers, Connecticut College has implemented new policies to ensure student safety and privacy.

The college has begun installing cameras at the entrances of its residence halls and has implemented the Rave Guardian App, “which provides direct access to services and critical safety information for all students,” college President Katherine Bergeron said.

The college also has hired an internal investigator, Carrie-Jo “CJ” McGuffey, to work alongside campus safety and the college’s sexual misconduct and gender discrimination office.

On March 1, 2019, Carlos Alberti was charged with seven counts of voyeurism. Roughly three months later, on May 30, he was arrested again, this time on 36 counts of voyeurism. Police say that his phone contained over 200 videos of female Connecticut College students in the shower. Alberti has posted two $150,000 cash bonds in the case and his next court date is scheduled for Nov. 13.

“The safety and security of our campus is of the highest priority and this summer we were able to take a number of important steps to enhance our efforts,” Bergeron said. “We foster a campus of respect.”

Ebony Manning, associate dean of equity and compliance, added, “We are trying our best to make sure students feel safe on campus. We do not tolerate harassment, sexual misconduct, bias ... none of it.”

However, some students feel the new policies are too little too late.

“I feel these policy changes are more reactive than proactive,” sophomore Therese Etoka said. “The app’s release, the cameras at the dorm entrances — these changes came after the fact of what happened last year. I don’t know why they weren’t already in place.”

Etoka was not alone in this sentiment. Other students feel that the current changes are simply an attempt to save face.

Sophomore Zoe Bertone noted, “The administration should have done this years ago. It seems like they only did it because of the heat they got.”

After Alberti’s second arrest, the college received significant media attention as the victims demanded action.

John McKnight, the dean of institutional equity and inclusion, emphasizes the available services, noting how the Rave Guardian App was designed to streamline connections between students and campus safety. Additionally, he said the new 24/7 confidential advocate on-call hotline, (860) 460-9194, allows students to receive assistance, “no matter how late.”

He noted, “Not everything we do is in response. We did have something massive happen; it was far beyond anything that we’ve seen. We responded in an according manner. We weren’t being negligent. The Rave Guardian app synthesized all the student resources we have. It’s not that the college wasn’t trying to get information in front of students before — the app was a means to organize it. Student safety is not an afterthought.”

Mia Barbuto, a sophomore, said that before the voyeurism stopped, “I used to wear a bathing suit in the shower. I don’t anymore but whenever someone enters the bathroom I perk up and wait until they leave before I step out of the shower.”

McKnight said he was not surprised that students continue to feel concerned about the safety and privacy of the shower stalls. “I would encourage students who feel afraid to reach out. We are here to help. We do a lot of preventative education and work — but getting all we do in front of students is the challenge.”

“Next year, we are mandating new graduate requirements — Social Difference and Power courses — that speak to power, privilege, and voice,” he added. “Through increased education, we will develop a culture where people are more comfortable speaking out.”

“Is it enough, though?” Barbuto said.

When asked whether she felt safe this year, senior Jada Fitzpatrick replied, “No, not at all. It’s normal to always party here ... The environment here isn’t great. (The voyeurism) is just the tip of a nasty iceberg in terms of how some Connecticut College’s students act.”

Other students also believe that the voyeurism is symptomatic of an environment in need of increased security and regulation.

“This is not the end,” Barbuto said. “As a woman on campus, I want to see more change. I want to feel safe.” She noted how she would like to see more emergency blue light phones, which have a direct line to safety officials, placed strategically around the campus. She also would like to see increased campus safety patrols — especially on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Further responding to students’ safety concerns, the college has implemented a new policy of releasing an annual security report at the end of each academic year. The most recent one, for the 2018 academic year, outlines college resources and statistics on criminal complaints filed. The report states that there have been three rape cases and three instances of dating violence filed. However, it was unclear whether that is a true indication of all such incidents on campus. Campus safety officials could not be reached for comment.

McGuffey said statistics surrounding sexual misconduct, inducing the voyeuristic spree, would be shared in a later report.

The question still lingers as to how the effectiveness of the college’s new policies will be measured.

President Bergeron has created the Connecticut College Resource Team and hopes that, through a working relationship between administrative officials, local police and students, the college will be able to identify which aspects of these new initiatives are working and which are not.

“The college has made progress, but we need students and faculty alike to work together to craft a safer environment,” McKnight said. "We’re a community. We have to work together.”

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