Rowan University officials held a meeting tonight to address community concerns surrounding the arrest of 29-year-old student Mitchell Merkowsky, who was arrested for looking into female students’ windows and taking photos and videos of them in residential buildings, as well as around campus.
The meeting was attended by approximately 15 people from the Rowan community including students and family members, in addition to multiple members of the Rowan administration.
“I am fairly confident, because this investigation is still an ongoing investigation, that no one’s identity has been compromised,” Mike Kantner, Assistant Vice President of Public Safety & Emergency Management said. “What that means is there are no pictures where you can see the actual person, it’s always something from behind, something from the waist down, but there’s no direct pictures where someone could say, ‘Hey, that looks like [a specific person].'”
Kantner did make it clear that if someone’s identity is found to have been compromised, they will be contacted as soon as possible.
He also said that it is believed at this point in the investigation that Merkowsky was working alone, and that none of the photos or videos he took were posted online.
“There’s nothing indicating that there was anything posted on social media at this point, because we had asked them [Glassboro Police Department], but they are still going through a lot of these photos… so we think he was using them for self-gratification,” Kantner said.
As this is an ongoing investigation, university officials urged attendees to spread the word and encourage anyone with knowledge of the situation to contact the Glassboro Police Department at 856-881-1501, ext. 88167; text GLASSPD and their message to 847411; or call campus Public Safety.
Kantner also said that in the time that he has been at Rowan, nothing like this has ever happened on campus, and that the best way to prevent something similar from happening again is to report suspicious activity when you see it.
Drew Tinnin, the associate vice president for student life and the dean of students also emphasized that if you see or have seen something suspicious, you should not brush it off.
“This is a very unfortunate incident, but for a community of our size, things happen and we just need your help reporting those things when they do occur so we can address them accordingly,” Tinnin said.
In light of the incident, Scott Woodside, the Director for Student Health Services on campus, spoke about the services provided at the Wellness Center that can help those who are struggling with this case, including 24/7 counseling and Let’s Talk programs.
Merkowsky was arrested last night after a two-week long investigation following an encounter on Nov. 6, when students called to report suspicious activity. Merkowsky was confronted shortly thereafter in the Rowan Boulevard parking garage with a pair of binoculars looking at the nearby residential building, according to police reports gathered in a Courier-Post article.
He was charged at the time with invasion of privacy and released on a summons, though police confiscated some of his belongings, including his phone, a flash drive and a laptop. Police found that he had recorded students throughout campus and on Rowan Boulevard, and had also watched students through their windows, according to nj.com.
Merkowsky is being held at Salem County Correctional Facility on multiple charges of third-degree invasion of privacy, a fourth-degree charge of criminal trespassing and criminal attempt to commit invasion of privacy.
As Merkowsky is a Burlington County resident, Burlington County and Evesham police are also coordinating with Glassboro police in the investigation, Kantner said.
Joe Cardona, the Vice President for University Relations, also said earlier today that Merkowsky is no longer a student at Rowan University.
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