After a cold and rainy week, sunshine was not the only cause for excitement on Sunday, Feb. 16. A rumored former student climbing the tower drew a crowd below around 4 p.m.
The male climber wore a white shirt, dark pants and a pair of sunglasses. According to a live stream video, he reached the top by scaling the metal grates on the side of the tower
The University of Dallas Police Department, UDPD, was not willing to identify the climber to The University News.
Joseph Watson, who graduated in 2016 from UD, lived-streamed the occurrence on Instagram. In a direct message through Instagram, Watson stated that the male in question lives with him and also climbed the tower about a year ago.
“His motive was primarily just for fun as far as I know,” wrote Watson.
In an Instagram caption accompanying a video of the climber’s previous trek up the tower, Watson referred to the climber as “Raf.”
Junior English major Colette McNamara saw the crowd first, then the climber.
“Everyone talks about climbing the tower all the time, and he actually did it,” said McNamara.
Students had varied responses to the event, which made its way through social media immediately via Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
Freshman Charlotte Lannon said that many members of the crowd warned him to leave.
“It’s trespassing on private property and disturbance of peace, so it’s a big deal,” said Lannon.
Others admitted to a sort of wonder at the climber. Valerie Von Nostrand, a freshman, was studying on the Haggerty Science Building balcony when she noticed the climber descending the tower.
“This guy is a legend,” said Von Nostrand.
The climber made it down safely but was met by the Irving Police Department as well as UDPD. UDPD Chief Russell Greene relayed that the climber’s actions not only put his life in peril but could have potentially risked the lives of anyone attempting a rescue, had it been necessary.
“There’s a huge gap between the top of that tower and the top of that ladder,” Chief Greene explained, referring to standard fire rescue ladders. The University of Dallas tower is about 188 feet tall, while a fire truck ladder measures about 100 feet. “It’s being reckless and it’s being reckless with everybody else that’s around it,” Greene said.
According to Officer Bobby Mason, the climber was issued a criminal trespass citation, which means he could be arrested if he returns to the university property unless he has “express written permission from the University administration.” This potential arrest would mean a Class B Misdemeanor for criminal trespass.
While many students viewed the event with awe, it prompted questions about what can be done in the future to prevent another potentially disastrous incident. No official plans have been made, but Chief Greene said that the UDPD is keeping all options in mind.
“Anytime something happens, you’re putting . . . people at risk, much less the students themselves,” said Chief Greene. “I would caution [one to] think otherwise.”