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Tuesday, March 28, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 120

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Fetishism is afoot in the library

By Jim Parsons
Daily Cougar Staff

The stress of preparing for midterm exams wasn't the only thing a female UH student had to deal with March 8 when she sat down to study in the M.D. Anderson Memorial Library: She also encountered a young man with a foot fetish.

The senior education major, who asked to remain anonymous, said the man approached her while she was studying on the library's fifth floor and asked her to move to another study area. He claimed the carpet near where she was sitting was about to be sprayed with a stain guard.

She refused to move, but later got up to use the rest room and returned to find her seat taken. After finding a seat in another study area, the woman was again approached by the man, who brought her a stool and asked her to put her feet on it. He then asked her to remove her shoes, saying the carpet treatment would stain them.

When the student repeatedly refused, the man, who she said identified himself as a library maintenance employee, left. She took the first opportunity to do the same.

"On the way home, I was thinking, ‘Damn, that was really weird,'" the woman said. "It's such a nuisance to have someone come and do something like that."

She described the man as a soft-spoken African-American of slight build between the ages of 18 and 22. At the time, she said he was wearing chinos and a flannel shirt.

Lt. Malcolm Davis of the UH Police Department said he had not heard of the man, but encouraged anyone who encounters him -- or any unusual situation anywhere on campus -- to inform the police quickly.

Students should also get as clear a description of any individuals involved as possible, Davis said.

"If we have got somebody out there doing strange things, we need to find out about it," he said.

Dana Rooks, dean of libraries, agreed. She said at the very least, such incidents in the library should be reported to library staff, which will then notify UHPD.

"(The library) is a very large building. We do not bar access to anyone unless they give us a reason to throw them out, and we don't want to," Rooks said. "We want to keep it that way by knowing if students have concerns about anything."

The student said she wanted other students to know what happened to her so they can avoid similar incidents.

"As women, we have to deal with so much crap," she said. "I don't want to have to deal with this foot-fetish guy at the library."
 

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