Person Impersonating a Tri-C Staff Member
By Isabella Cerveira
Cuyahoga Community College, home to over 40,000 credit students and approximately 3,000 staff members annually, faced a troubling incident at the onset of the 2023 semester. At the beginning of the Fall semester in 2023, a student reported an incident at the Eastern Campus Police; the victim stated a man was impersonating a Tri-C staff member, more precisely a tutor, and using it as an excuse to approach students.
According to the police report, two incidents occurred at night at Highland Hills, 4250 Richmond Rd, the Eastern Campus of Cuyahoga Community College. According to the document, the suspect followed the victim to her car and stated that she was a favorite student on July 29, 2023. After the episode, the suspect increased his attitude, first by approaching her a second time on August 3, 2023, when the victim was going to her class. The man presented himself as a staff member, more precisely a tutor at the tutoring center, asked to tutor her, and then asked intrusive questions about personal information, such as an address, the victim’s routine, and the main campus. Later that night, the victim stated the suspect followed her outside to the parking lot of the college, even stating that she needed to leave; the suspect remained to ask her questions and requested to take pictures of her for a “school project,” he started demanding her to put away her belongings, which included her water bottle, purse, and phone; the victim refused and called her husband so that he could be aware of the situation. The suspect started acting more aggressively demanding her to leave the campus with him so that he could take pictures of her in another place. However, she was able to enter her vehicle and leave the campus. On August 11, 2023, the victim contacted the campus police reporting the incidents. As stated by the police, the suspect was 5’08” tall, in his early ’50s, wearing glasses, a hat, and a shirt with the Math Institute logo. She completed the report on August 11, 2023. While she met the police officer at the campus station, the suspect was in the same building in the lobby, The Student Service Building, at the same place as the tutoring center. The victim’s name and other sensitive data were not released to protect her safety.
Based on the police report, the officer who filed the report provided all the necessary information for the victim to go forward with the report and designed a detective bureau to investigate those incidents; the officer also provided the victim with safety tips and resources for campus security. Moreover, the suspect was identified and questioned about whether he was linked to the institution, which he declined; the police staff reported to the legal team of Tri-C that sent the suspect a letter warning him that he was considered persona non grata on campus. The Police Department stated:
“The campus police requested a Persona Non-Grata for this person because he was allegedly involved in an inappropriate tutoring situation. No arrest was made because the person did not break any laws, but their behavior was unacceptable and disruptive to the learning environment. The Persona Non-Grata bans the person from entering the college premises and ensures the safety and well-being of the students.”
The college handbook of 2023 defines persona non grata as someone who has been deemed no longer able to access the college facilities and locations; this is a legal string made by the legal department of Cuyahoga Community College. In addition, harassment can be considered a federal crime in specific cases. In the state of Ohio, according to Ohio Laws and Administrative Rules, it is a criminal offense considered a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of up to $1000, up to 180 days (about 6 months) in jail, or both. Until this article is published, the suspect remains a persona non grata for Cuyahoga Community College.