An unknown individual was arrested by the Tufts University Police Department at 1:11 a.m. on Sept. 7 after the department received a report of the person sleeping on a couch on the fourth floor of Harleston Hall.
Director of Public Safety Mary McCauley described both the events leading up to the incident and the charges that the individual received.
“A subsequent video review showed that [the individual] entered the building by following closely behind two students as they tapped into the residence hall,” McCauley wrote in an email to the Daily. “The individual was arrested for trespassing, was charged, and was released on his own recognizance. His criminal case is pending in Somerville District Court.”
McCauley added that this was not the first time TUPD has found this individual on campus.
“[The individual] was previously removed from Tufts property when he trespassed in February; he was not arrested or charged at that time but was advised not to trespass again,” McCauley said.
Arnav Shiva, a resident of Harleston Hall’s fourth floor, said that reporting the situation to TUPD, while not ideal, was necessary.
“I’m glad that the cops came to arrest him, but I wish it didn’t have to come down to that,” Shiva, a sophomore, said. “If a random guy comes to your house who shouldn’t be there, fair enough to call the cops.”
Kiana Vallo, another resident of Harleston Hall, said she felt torn between pursuing criminal action and showing compassion to the individual.
“Any breach in safety is concerning in a sense because we do think of this as our home,” Vallo, a sophomore, said.
She acknowledged, however, that the treatment of the person by TUPD might be too severe for this situation.
“It seems kind of harsh … because he never crossed the line of making someone uncomfortable,” Vallo said.
Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine, which advocates for the reform of TUPD, expressed in a written statement to the Daily its aversion toward TUPD’s action.
“We are saddened and disgusted, but not surprised, after hearing that TUPD arrested an individual experiencing houselessness for simply trying to find a place to sleep for the night,” SJP said. “With the anti-homeless architecture in Somerville, it is nearly impossible to find a place to sleep.”
Part of SJP’s work centers around its End the Deadly Exchange campaign, which seeks to demilitarize TUPD, and SJP posits that Tufts cannot be anti-racist until the Deadly Exchange is ended. SJP said the arrest was antithetical to University President Anthony Monaco’s commitment to make Tufts an anti-racist institution, and argued that Tufts perpetuated the criminalization of homelessness as a result.
“If Tufts is truly committed to anti-racist advocacy, they would offer our spare beds, couches, and resources to people without arresting them,” SJP said. “Unhoused people displaced by Tufts’ gentrification deserve the university’s resources just as much as staff and students, not armed officers using their power to further displace them. Criminalizing houselessness leads to a cycle of arrests, hearings, and debt that make houselessness and death even more likely.”