Photo by William Freedberg.
Updated 12:54 a.m. 10/8/13 with additional sourcing.
Despite circulating rumors that the Saybrook “brown bandit” has been caught, the individual, or individuals, appears to still be at large.
Saybrook resident Walden Davis ‘16 says he has been in contact with Yale police who indicate the investigation is on-going.
“I have been talking with Yale and New Haven law enforcement, and I have not gotten any sense from them that the investigation has determined any possible suspects—let alone that ‘the poopetrator’ has been caught,” Davis said.
Yale Security supervisor Bill Hewitt said his officers are involved with increasing security around the laundry rooms. He declined to be more specific.
In the meantime, however, any changes to laundry rooms in other colleges appear small. In Jonathan Edwards on Saturday night, the only change in the laundry room was the complete disappearance of red bins that typically hold wet laundry in the event no dryer is open. On a Thursday afternoon, Berkeley’s North Court laundry room seemed merely unusually clean.
Several students interviewed by the News claimed that they had heard the perpetrator had been caught sometime last week. Some went as far as saying that the person was to stand before the Executive Committee, the University’s highest disciplinary body. When questioned as to where they heard the rumors, students were not able to provide further detail.
“I heard the rumor that the poopetrator was already caught from some Saybrook Master Aides, but that was before the latest attack,” said Saybrook resident Sterling Johnson ’15, who claims to have coined the term ‘poopgate.’ “It is clear that whoever is doing this has some deep-seated mental issues and has to go.”
A second part of the rumor is that the latest incident, in which soiled clothes were hung on a laundry line of Cross Campus, was actually a prank by the semi-secret group the Pundits. The rumor claimed that the clothes were not actually soiled with feces, but instead Nutella or chocolate.
The News contacted several suspected Pundits with requests for comment. Of those who responded, all denied their involvement in the group and claimed they knew nothing about the incident.
A Saybrook master’s aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed to the News that the Friday incident involved chocolate instead of feces. The aide said, however, that they were unaware of any further developments and that the college administration was handling the case “discretely.”
Requests for comment from all twelve residential college deans about whether the perpetrator has been caught have not been answered, with the exception of Saybrook Dean Christine Muller. Muller declined to comment, saying instead that the Saybrook master’s office was best suited to comment. While Saybrook Master Paul Hudak has declined to be interviewed, he previously told the News that Yale Police has been added to the investigation and the contaminated dryers have been cleaned.
“We are actively seeking information about who the perpetrator might be,” Hudak added. “That’s about all we can do.”
Despite additional rumors of similar happenings in Silliman, Master Judith Krauss said no incidents have taken place in the college.
Yale College masters are struggling to strike a balance between student safety and “freedom from intrusive surveillance” in moving forward with decisions on laundry room security, said Chair of the Council of Masters Amy Hungerford said in an email to the News. Incidents like this “violate the whole community,” she added.
“I myself see these incidents not as the sign of a general decline in civility and consideration on campus, but rather as disturbing and unusual behavior that is likely to be isolated to a particular individual or individuals,” Hungerford said. “The sad thing is that while we live our lives here feeling a high level of trust, such acts remind us of the variability of human behavior—a variability we sometimes happily forget until we are reminded by acts like these.”
The News contacted Yale Information Technology Services in hopes of discovering the identity of the owner of the panlist “firstname.lastname@example.org,” which was used to send out photos of the soiled clothes early Friday morning.Thus far, there has been no response to those requests, and it is unclear if the Yale Administration is undertaking a similar approach to catching the perpetrator.