The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Intruder trespasses into class, arrested in Featheringill-Jacobs Hall

The professor of the class called on Vanderbilt to increase building and classroom security and implement emergency preparedness trainings.
Tasfia Alam
Featheringill-Jacobs Hall, as photographed on Oct. 4, 2022. (Hustler Multimedia/Tasfia Alam)

A man unaffiliated with Vanderbilt entered Featheringill Hall 138 during a CS 2201 course around 10 a.m. CST on Nov. 14. A student called the Vanderbilt University Police Department, who arrested the individual outside the classroom.

Some students — including the one who called VUPD — in the class did not respond to The Hustler’s request for comment, while others declined to comment for privacy and safety concerns.

“VUPD received a call about a suspicious person entering a class in Featheringill-Jacobs Hall and speaking in a nonsensical manner. The professor asked the person to leave, but he refused,” Vanderbilt University Public Safety said in a statement to The Hustler. “VUPD arrived at the scene at 10:11 a.m. and detained the subject, who is unaffiliated with the university, as he was exiting the classroom. He was subsequently arrested, transported to the [Davidson County] Criminal Justice Center and booked.”

Professor Rui Bai said that, upon entering the classroom, the man asked her what class she was teaching and the time at which it would end. She noticed that he seemed in an “unstable emotional or mental condition” and was carrying an unzipped backpack in his hand. 

“As the instructor, my priority in this situation was ensuring the safety of both my students and myself,” Bai said. “Considering the potential risk of this man having weapons in his backpack and the possibility that a rejection, no matter how polite, might provoke him, I hesitated for a few seconds but eventually nodded.”

Bai said she continued the lecture as usual while approximately five students snuck out of the room to call VUPD. He reportedly was typing on his phone and then began speaking aloud on a call. 

Bai said she asked him to leave, after which he did — only to return two minutes later. At the time of the class’s regularly scheduled five-minute break, she again asked him to leave. 

“He came back to the classroom, took a seat and started to stare at me. It was then I increasingly doubted his possible reasons for remaining in this classroom,” Bai said. “I then approached the man once more, politely asked him again to leave the classroom, and walked him out while he made a fuss. I was just about to contact the campus police when the students returned and informed us that this man had been arrested by the campus police.”

Following the incident, the School of Engineering arranged emergency preparedness training sessions for employees and students within the school. Bai commended the school’s “prompt attention” to the incident and expressed a desire for similar training to be held across the university.

“While Vanderbilt is generally safe, it is important to know how to effectively react to emergencies, including situations as severe as an active shooting, that might occur while on campus or having classes,” Bai said. “Guidance on how to properly defend ourselves if necessary would also be valuable; some students reflected that they were prepared to fight back if the intruder was going to attack us.”

Bai also suggested that an emergency button be added to lecterns in each classroom to facilitate direct communication with police and safety authorities.

“This way, instructors could promptly notify VUPS about potential emergencies along with the exact room number without the need for calls or texts,” Bai said.

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About the Contributors
Brina Ratangee
Brina Ratangee, Editorial Director
Brina Ratangee ('24) is a student in the College of Arts and Science majoring in medicine, health & society and neuroscience. She previously served as News Editor. When not writing for The Hustler, she enjoys trivia nights, solving NYT crosswords and biking around Nashville. You can reach her at [email protected].
Tasfia Alam
Tasfia Alam, Multimedia Copy Editor
Tasfia Alam (‘25) is from Los Angeles and is majoring in neuroscience and political science in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, she can be found obsessing over a new book, trying to expand her music taste or taking pictures of pretty sunsets. You can reach her at [email protected]
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