Emilie Burke ’15 left her clothes to dry overnight in the Feinberg laundry room on Feb. 11. When she returned the next day, she discovered that her three loads of laundry, which constitute at least 70 percent of her wardrobe, had gone missing.
Burke, who said that she had lost at least 400 dollars worth of clothing, explained that she filed a report with Public Safety that same day, but noted, “There was nothing they could do for me.”
In addition to contacting Public Safety, Burke sent an email to WilsonWire, the Wilson College listserv, asking for the thief to return her clothes. Hers was one of nine emails sent to the listserv regarding missing possessions from Wilson laundry rooms since the start of the spring semester.
Although a number of thefts have been discussed in WilsonWire emails, only one laundry theft has been reported to Public Safety according to the Department of Public Safety’s daily crime logs and clarifications from University spokesperson Martin Mbugua, since the start of February. The extent of theft in Feinberg remains unclear.
After receiving several emails about laundry that had disappeared from Feinberg, AJ Sibley ’16 decided to reach out to USG Senator Eduardo Lima ’16 to discuss the possibility of installing security cameras in campus laundry rooms.
“This was a problem that had been persisting throughout the year, and no one else was doing anything about it,” Sibley said. “The administration probably doesn’t know this is a problem.”
In an email sent to Wilson College students on Feb. 27, Sibley enlisted his classmates to “stop the madness,” and support a petition to install security cameras in campus laundry rooms. Within a day, 23 students agreed to sign this petition, and Sibley forwarded the names of these individuals to Lima.
Lima discussed the idea of security cameras with USG President Shawon Jackson ’15, who plans to delegate this project to the Undergraduate Student Life Committee in the coming weeks. According to Jackson, the USLC will consider this proposal and engage in a conversation with the University community before deciding whether to lead this project or to instead ask for support from the administration.
Mbugua explained that the decision to install security cameras would depend on discussions and evaluations by the Department of Public Safety.
In an email sent over the Wilson listserv on Tuesday, Wilson Director of Student Life Regan Crotty encouraged students to report any thefts to Public Safety, before adding, “Theft of someone else’s laundry, even if it is just one piece of clothing, is a violation of University policy and can lead to disciplinary repercussions.”
To address the recent unofficial reports of missing laundry, the Wilson College Office set up a laundry-return box in the Feinberg laundry room, so that students who have taken the possessions of a classmate can return these items anonymously. In addition, ten plastic laundry baskets have been added to the Feinberg laundry room, to keep individual loads separate, and to ensure that students do not inadvertently take their peers’ laundry.
While Sibley described the Wilson College staff’s actions as a “nice effort,” he said that they would ultimately be ineffective in the case that the items’ disappearances were actual thefts. He said that students who have supported his petition have cited cases of losing Princeton gear more often than other clothes.
“Princeton students aren’t going after things to sell on eBay,” he said. “They’re looking for things of practical utility.”
Burke said that after sending out an email to WilsonWire, she found that only her winter jacket and Princeton rugby shirts had been returned to the laundry room. She added that she has not been able to replenish her wardrobe since the incident.
“I’m not from a wealthy family, and I don’t have the kind of money to just get new clothes,” she said. “I now only have one pair of pants, and I have to do laundry every other day. When you go to your closet and nothing’s there, you don’t know how to react.” She added that in addition to losing her Princeton t-shirts, her relatively expensive skirts and tops remain missing.
Ryan Patrick ’16 also said he lost two of his nicest articles of clothing from his laundry load, and he noted that his first reaction was one of “disappointment.”
“I don’t want to think of my fellow Princeton students as having a malicious intent,” he said, adding, “I was discouraged with my classmates and peers.”
Annie Tao ’16 also reported a theft over WilsonWire when she found that her bath mat had gone missing. While she supports the idea of installing security cameras, she said that she wished she could trust her classmates instead.
“Security cameras seem kind of ridiculous,” she explained. “Ideally, people could just use common sense and not steal or be considerate and not throw stuff into a machine with laundry already in it.”
In Tao’s case, however, the incident turned out to be an accident. Nelson Collet ’16, who had taken the bath mat by mistake, had his roommate return it to Tao after reading her WilsonWire email.
“This obviously wasn’t a theft,” Collet said. “I wouldn’t know what I’d do with a purple bath mat.”
Burke added that while she believes her clothes were actually stolen, she believes that in most cases these incidents are not thefts. She explained that she was opposed to the idea of security cameras because it would detract from the “Orange Bubble” feel of the Princeton campus.
“The University trusts us as individuals,” she said. “It’s part of growing up.”
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.