‘Can I lay in bed with you?’: How a stranger got into my dorm room
I felt safe living in an NYU dorm — until a stranger pretending to be an NYU student knocked on my door and tried to get in bed with me.
November 12, 2021
Content warning: This article contains descriptions of sexual harassment.
When you live in on-campus housing, you’re afforded a sense of security not found anywhere else in the city. You know that everyone in your building goes to the same university, you have to show proof of identification to enter, and there are security guards who can apprehend intruders. With all of these safety measures in place, campus housing is ostensibly a safe environment to live in.
So when a stranger knocked on my door asking for menstrual products and to use our bathroom, my roommate and I thought nothing of it. We believed her story — that her roommates had locked her out and she had nowhere else to go. She was wearing blue skinny jeans, a sweatshirt, dirty white sneakers and earbuds with an iPhone 12 — typical college-girl attire. There was no reason for us to believe that she wasn’t who she said she was.
We didn’t think to be skeptical. We just wanted to be nice. If only we had been a little bit more apprehensive, we would have avoided the chaos that ensued.
Once she emerged from the bathroom, we started to make dinner: mac and cheese with extra butter and no milk. She insisted on helping out with dinner and cleaned up afterward. We engaged in the sort of small talk you’d expect from any icebreaker, and while no alarm bells had begun to ring, there were a few inconsistencies. She explained that her major was in writing, and as the conversation evolved, she added that she hoped to publish a book. She also said that she went to Tisch, which struck us as an odd choice for a novice author.
But we paid little mind, and I went to my bed to talk to a friend while my roommate continued eating with our guest in the kitchen. I started feeling uneasy when I received a text from my roommate reading “This chick is mad weird.” I chuckled and assumed that our guest was just being overly friendly until the guest in question peeked over at me from the doorway and asked, “Can I lay in bed with you?”
I was stunned at the question.
What did she mean? Lay with me? In my bed? Does she want to do that platonically or sexually? Either way, why would she ask me that?
I didn’t even know her! Obviously no!
I laughed nervously and gave up my bed, insisting that if she was tired she could lie down and I would simply work from my desk. She refused as it “didn’t matter,” she just wanted to lie in bed with me. I nervously agreed and remained at my desk, but an unsettling feeling began to brew in my stomach. I began to fear that this chick — as foretold by my attentive roommate — was indeed mad weird.
After a few more minutes cleaning up the mess from dinner, our guest finally left, hoping to get let back in to her “own room.” As soon as the door closed behind her, I locked it and peeped at her from the hallway, making sure she was leaving for good. My roommate frantically called our neighbors and told them to come over. We promised to explain once they arrived.
Our neighbors knocked at our door and we hurriedly let them in. While explaining, I learned I was not the only one with whom this guest had had a wildly uncomfortable encounter. She had asked my roommate what her thoughts were on women — if she had ever thought about being with one or sleeping with one — and if she, too, would want to lay in bed with her.
I shuddered at what had just happened and sat there wondering what was in store. As we all sat in the kitchen talking about our fears, we heard a knock on the door. She was back. I froze and backed frightfully from the door, looking at those around me for guidance on what to do.
Not left with many options, we reluctantly let her in. After asking her a series of questions about her predicament of being locked out, she headed toward my bed to lie down; before long, she had fallen asleep.
We decided to tell the RA and NYU Campus Safety officer in the lobby about what was happening, and after an hour of back and forth, waiting for what seemed like forever, she was finally escorted out of the building by campus security. All of the anxieties and fear of having a stranger in our dorm room — one who had made advances on us — finally dissipated.
I still find myself with a certain uneasiness in my stomach whenever I lay down in my bed.”
After she had left, we were informed that she was not even a student. She had no student ID and when asked what her NetID was, she couldn’t answer. She had been let in by a friend.
Although the incident occurred over a week ago, I still find myself with a certain uneasiness in my stomach whenever I lay down in my bed. Every knock on the door sends me into a slight panic, as I fear I could be naive enough to fall into the same situation again. My roommate and I often joke about roleplaying scary guards checking student IDs before letting anyone into our room, but that might become our actual jobs soon enough.
It’s an eerie feeling to have a stranger violate you to that degree in your home, knowing they preyed upon your kindness to invite them in. The dorms, which should be a safe place for students to relax and wind down, should not let their students fall victim to these types of situations.
While the break-in has turned into a good laugh for my roommate and me, it is proof of NYU’s efficiency — or lack thereof — at protecting students’ safety and well-being, in spite of the increasing housing costs, no less. As a dorm resident, this might be a reminder to keep your guard up, even when you think you are in a guarded residence hall.
Contact Mariana Trimble at [email protected]