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A hole in students’ privacy?

It’s possible that a person could peer through a hole in the wall of the Campus Recreation Center and look directly into the women’s locker room.

Whether anybody has actually done so is unclear, however, as USF officials investigate allegations of voyeurism.

Crystal Fisher, fitness staff member for Campus Recreation, filed a complaint with University Police (UP) Thursday afternoon, asking them to investigate the hole. She said that someone who works in the building told her about the hole, and told her that two maintenance workers had created it to watch female students change.

UP officers cleared the women’s locker room and inspected the hole Thursday, but found no evidence that it was man-made, or that any foul play was involved.

“To my knowledge, Campus Recreation was built in 1963, and any building that old will require maintenance, which is what this looks like,” UP Sgt. Mike Klingebiel said. “The pipes that run through the locker room are evidence of the building being retrofitted over time, and the hole is right where a pipe comes through the wall … With all the activity in here over the years, the area around the pipe could have crumbled.”

Lt. Meg Ross said the baseball-sized hole, located just a few feet from the ceiling, offered “probable visibility,” but there was “no reason to believe that criminal activity was involved.”

Ross said that, because of how high the hole in the wall is, a person would need a ladder to look through it. On the other side of the wall, however, there are three ladders, all in a room that’s only accessible to maintenance workers.

UP has its own set of keys to the room, and Klingebiel said it’s normal for a room like this to house ladders and other maintenance supplies. One ladder was standing up in the area of the room opposite the hole, and the other two were folded on the floor, also away from the hole. As of press time, UP had not climbed the ladder to see how visible the locker room was from the maintenance room.

An employee familiar with Campus Recreation said the ladders aren’t normally far from the hole, as the employee has often found the ladder in the pipe room propped up against the wall, next to the hole. In fact, the source – who declined to be named out of concern for his job – said he voiced his concerns to Fisher because he has seen people looking through the hole on multiple occasions.

He said he has often patched the hole and has tried to stop them from looking, but the hole continually reappears and his concerns have remained unaddressed.

That’s why he turned to Fisher, who looked at the hole for herself and decided to visit UP. Fisher said she was told that various holes have appeared in the women’s locker room on and off for about a decade, which made her decide to do something to break the cycle.

“As a student and employee, I feel violated,” she said. “I use that locker room. The fact that someone could’ve watched me undress just disgusts me, and I felt that something needed to be done to protect students.”

When informed of the unnamed employee’s story, UP officials said they would need him – or anyone else with information about strange activity involving the hole – to step forward, since the site shows no signs of suspicious activity.

Campus Recreation Director Eric Hunter said this was the first he had heard of any holes in the women’s locker room, and that he had never heard of any accusations of voyeurism.

“We have our own maintenance staff that takes care of some building repairs and calls in work orders to Physical Plant,” he said. “I spoke with the supervisor of the staff earlier today, and he said he has no recollection of placing any work orders about holes in the walls or patching holes there.”

As of press time, a public information request for all electronic and written work orders involving holes in the women’s locker room had yet to be filled. USF News Director Lara Wade said that of the work orders gathered so far, none pertained to fixing holes in the women’s locker room.

“That doesn’t mean that (the work orders) don’t exist,” she said. “We’re taking this issue very seriously.”

Hunter said Physical Plant doesn’t report to him, so if holes had appeared there over time and Physical Plant had been maintaining them on their own, he wouldn’t know.

Officials at Physical Plant could not be reached, but Hunter said Physical Plant worked with him Thursday to immediately patch the holes.

The University employee said he worries that the holes will reappear within a few months, but Hunter said he could assure Campus Recreation patrons that this won’t be the case.

Whether the claims of voyeurism turn out to be true or not, Hunter said he doesn’t take the allegations lightly, and he may have a female member of the morning staff regularly check for holes in the locker room.

Since Fisher works from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. most days of the week, this could likely become her job.

“That sounds like a good plan,” she said. “This all comes down to the safety and well-being of students, and I feel a little better knowing that the issue is being handled immediately.”

Though Fisher is pleased with the University’s prompt reaction, she said she’s still wary of how the situation will be resolved.

“I know it’s (hard) to prove voyeurism, and if this really is going on, I want to make sure that those involved are prosecuted,” she said. “Other people may have heard about it and done nothing, but I have the case number – and I intend to follow up on this.”