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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Wren Creeper: Campus myth or threatening truth?

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After an exhausting day, many students find themselves in their dorm, common room or suite looking to relax within the private luxury of their living space. However, you may find that college dorm buildings are not as secure as one may expect. Last semester, rumors of the “Wren Creeper,” a mysterious figure who sneaks into the rooms of unsuspecting students living in Wren Hall at night, made waves around campus, sparking concerns over campus security.

Daniel Cui, a sophomore and resident assistant at Wren, shared his initial reaction when he first heard about the Wren Creeper in late October.

“I just thought someone [was] starting some sort of prank, or they [were] just trying to get people in the holiday spirit for Halloween, you know? And then, I found out from someone who lives in the building that this individual actually visited their friend in their suite,” Cui said. 

Another Wren RA, sophomore Adelaide Whist, had a similar introduction to the Wren Creeper. 

“It started as a rumor … and people were already getting scared about that,” Whist said. “At one point, people were saying it was a practical joke that someone had been playing on their suitemates. And then when I talked to my [Residential Life Coordinator],  … she [revealed] that there were in fact police reports being filed.”

Candice Belluscio, the Residential Life Coordinator of Wren Hall, told the Daily that the Office of Residential Life and Learning first received a report about unauthorized access concerns in October 2022.

There is no consensus on a description of what the Wren Creeper looks like, though some patterns to the alleged observations emerged through stories shared with the Wren Hall resident assistants.

“From the information that we’ve gathered, it is probably a student. [A] description that was somewhat consistent was: Caucasian male, about 5’ 8” with brown hair and [seen in] a blue Tufts hoodie,” Cui said.

Additionally, Cui commented on the increasing frequency of Wren Creeper sightings toward the end of the fall 2022 semester, including one in his own suite.

“I heard from a close friend of mine that their friend was also hit in their suite. So now there [were] two confirmed people who [had] reported being visited by the Wren [Creeper],” Cui said. “Then in November, it got personal because then the Wren [Creeper] visited my resident in [our] suite on top of like, three days or two days prior, visiting my other friend’s suite. And this was like, back to back. And then it just seemed like this activity was just kind of rampant.” 

Gigi Copeland, a sophomore who currently resides in Wren, shared her experience with the Wren Creeper.

“I've never personally encountered this person, however my suitemate Sam has,” Copeland said. “[Some] guy came into our common room at like 4 a.m. while Sam was sitting out here, and then [Sam] noticed so he turned his phone flashlight on and when he did that, the guy saw and then got scared and ran down the stairs. He had to fill out a whole police report about it, but nothing has come of that.”

With repeated intrusions into residents’ living spaces, security issues in Wren Hall came to light.

In response, the Tufts University Police Department amped up security at Wren, with officers patrolling inside and outside the building.

Instead of increased TUPD patrols, Copeland said that a preferable solution would be to install some form of lock on the suite doors. While each individual room inside the suites have key card locks, the shared living spaces of the suites are separated by unlocked doors.

“They started just having police patrol the building, mostly at night. And so instead of getting locks on our suite doors, which seems like a pretty reasonable solution, especially [considering] that they have those in Latin Way and in Hillsides, which are basically also suite-style housing,” Copeland said. “Instead, they just have police walk through our common rooms unannounced. … It can be like 8 p.m., or it can be like 2 in the morning. And that’s just another uncomfortable thing.”

Whist had a similar reaction to the increased police presence at Wren, viewing it as a short-term strategy.

“It did work. But at the same time, a lot of us were like, this feels like a band-aid solution. … You should just put locks on the suites so that outside people can’t enter them,” Whist said. “So this doesn’t even have to be a problem.”

While increased police presence may be effective in deterring potential intruders from trespassing in students’ suites, not every student is comfortable with TUPD officers in their residence hall. To some students, unexpected patrols in private living spaces lead to feelings of unease. Belluscio explained that the administration has been contemplating multiple security approaches in light of the Wren Creeper allegations.

“If anyone wants to report anything to TUPD, they will always respond and investigate. TUPD and campus partners are looking at different models of intervention that could include campus security officers replacing TUPD officers in the residence hall for walkthroughs. We will keep the Wren Hall community engaged with this conversation,” Belluscio wrote in an email to the Daily.

Both Copeland and Whist have suggested the addition of locks to Wren suites to prevent unwanted entries in the first place, but, according to Whist, this has proved to be more challenging than expected. 

“[Residential Life] can’t get it approved by the fire marshal for whatever reason,” Whist said. “But I know that … people have been requesting this for a while now.” Belluscio was not able to confirm whether Residential Life is looking into additional locks or working with the fire department in time for publication.

While reports of the Wren Creeper have subsided this semester, jokes and rumors regarding the figure still remain relevant. Memes on social media platforms or casual banter between students often use humor to make light of the situation.

“I am a part of our generation [after all], and we make memes to make things feel a little bit better and make things a little bit less scary,” Whist said. “I think that the problem with Sidechat and stuff like that is when people start trying to assert authority on it … when they don’t know what's going on, because then that just ends up really freaking people out.”

Whist noted that the Wren Creeper allegations have prompted her to be intentional about maintaining open dialogues with the Wren residents she is responsible for.

“It’s made me take … rumors and stuff a lot more seriously just because of that experience,” Whist said. “It’s given me pause to really consider and listen to the concerns of my residents, which I think in terms of my role is positive. I’m happy that I’m more aware than I was before. It’s just unfortunate that that was the way. … I think that it speaks to a larger communication issue across departments within Tufts.”

Although the Wren Creeper allegations are yet to be resolved, the lore and rumors surrounding this mysterious figure have shifted perceptions of safety on campus.