Strange man wanders into Bliss classroom

A middle-aged man reportedly smelling of alcohol interrupted a 4 p.m. romanticism class being taught by Harriet Hustis, associate professor of English, last Thursday afternoon in Bliss Hall. He had followed one of the students to the class of 25 that day, Hustis said.

After hanging around the halls for a few minutes, and making students giggle by peeking in the door window, the man entered uninvited, Hustis said.

He told Hustis he was assigned to teach the class, argued with her for less than five minutes over whether he could teach the class, and then left on his own, she said.

Campus Police would not provide comments on the incident to The Signal before presstime.

Hustis said the man was white, in his late 40s to mid-50s, and had short grayish hair. She said he was approximately 5’8″ and wore a light blue shirt and a black Eagles cap.

He was clean, presentable and relatively articulate, Hustis said. She added that he wasn’t aggressive or mean, and went so far as to call him jovial.

In fact, Hustis said she thinks she passed him on the way to class, and he blended right in. “I don’t think you’d give him a second glance,” she said.

“He just walked in here and said, ‘I’m here to teach this class,'” Hustis said. “I think when he realized he wasn’t going to get to teach, he decided to leave.”

She said she tried to joke around with him at first. “It seemed like the students were kind of freaked out,” she said. She said she decided it was “probably best to not be confrontational at first.”

“Professor Hustis handled it very well, just being like, ‘No thank you,’ but firmly,” Gloria Arminio, a senior English major in the class, said. “She seemed very in control.”

After he left, a female student in the class told Hustis that the man had followed her there. Students sitting near the doorway where he was standing also told her he smelled of alcohol, Hustis said.

Hustis reported the incident to Paulette LaBar, secretary in the English department, who then called Campus Police.

According to Arminio, police officers entered the classroom 10 minutes later and talked to the class to get details.

A Campus Police officer said he thought he knew the man, that his name is Jack and he is from Pennsylvania, Arminio said.

She said an officer told the class Jack also was caught trying to “tutor” young girls outside the library. There have also been reports of him at Brower Student Center, Hustis said.

The officer said Campus Police would put the man on a list of people banned from the College, so that legal action could be taken if he was found on campus again.

Arminio said she could tell before class that the girl who was followed to class “was a little uneasy and watching someone in the hallway.”

Arminio said the class was more confused by the incident than scared. “Everyone was just waiting to see what would happen,” she said.

Hustis said she probably felt more comfortable during the incident because there were people across the hall and it was broad daylight.

After the incident, Hustis continued to hold class because she said she felt it would be “better to keep everyone calm.”

“Hopefully we’ll never see him again,” Hustis said. “We want people to be safe and keep an eye out.”