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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Trespasser in PAC not found after prompting students to evacuate classroom

By Dawson Finley


Theater students evacuated the Performing Arts Center after the class spotted an unfamiliar man trespassing in the rafters Friday afternoon, Dec. 1.

University Police were called to the scene but were unable to find the man, Western’s Director of Communications Paul Cocke said.

After seeing the man sitting on a catwalk of a PAC classroom, the instructor told the class to leave, but there was no official evacuation of the building, Cocke said.

University Police believe the man is a former student who has been trespassing around campus and may have been sleeping in the building, Cocke said. There were no weapons reported.

Jessie Phillips, event ticketing manager at the PAC, said she was walking over to Old Main from the building at about 3:50 p.m. when she saw police cars arriving.

Phillips said she believes the school knows who the man is and he is possibly homeless.

University Police were unable to locate an unfamiliar man who reportedly trespassed in a Performing Arts Center classroom Friday afternoon, Dec. 1. // Photo by Taylor Nichols

“There have been similar incidents like this [on campus] but I just feel like they’re more common now than they were 10 to 15 years ago,” Phillips said.

This wasn’t the first incident of a trespasser being spotted in the building.

In the weeks prior, students in a music class heard a bang under the bleachers where a man revealed himself to be hiding, Phillips said. He started yelling strange things and ran off before anyone could catch him, she said.

“[The PAC] is open a lot more than most other buildings on campus because there are tons of rehearsals and performances,” Phillips said. “Music kids are here at 3 a.m. in the practice rooms.”

The building had a previous disturbance when the women’s bathroom in the concert hall lobby had been vandalized. A copper grate was stolen and the tampon dispenser looked like it had almost been ripped off, she said.

Phillips said there was a discussion recently about how to make the building safer in light of these events.


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