Photo by Reyer Boxem (staged)

Internationals harassed for months

The Winscho

Photo by Reyer Boxem (staged)
All through last academic year, the inhabitants of the Winscho international student house were harassed by a flasher. The man roamed the parking lot and masturbated in front of the windows of unsuspecting female students. ‘We were left on our own.’
By Veronika Bajnokova and Christien Boomsma
20 September om 7:01 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 27 September 2023
om 15:28 uur.
September 20 at 7:01 AM.
Last modified on September 27, 2023
at 15:28 PM.

It was the middle of the night in late May when Alice Carticiano’s phone suddenly rang. Still sleepy, she picked it up to hear her friend panicking on the other side. ‘There’s this guy at my window masturbating. Can you please come over?’

The twenty-two-year-old student of business and economics rushed to her friend, who also lived on the ground floor of the Winschoterdiep international student house, and pulled open the curtains. ‘For the first five seconds or so he just kept going; it was really awkward. But when I moved as if I was going to open the windows – which isn’t possible, but he didn’t know that – he just ran away.’

The students raised the alarm in the Winscho group chat, where they were advised to close the curtains and stay safe. In the end, a number of girls put all their mattresses in one room and spent the night together. ‘I was very scared. It was just this one window that separated me from a maniac’, Alice says. 


It wasn’t the first time that particular exhibitionist had been seen at Winscho: he’s been stalking female students since at least the autumn of 2022.

That’s when twenty-year-old law student Katarina first read the warnings about him in the Winscho group chat. In October, she saw him for herself when he appeared in front of another girl’s window. ‘I was so scared that I went back to my own room. A couple of minutes passed and then I saw him outside my window, too.’ 

You go to sleep and think: there might be a man doing nasty stuff 

The man noticed Katarina watching and moved on to yet another girl. Katarina immediately closed her windows, turned off the lights, and hid in her bed. ‘It feels very invading’, she says. ‘You go to sleep and think: there might be a man doing nasty stuff while trying to look in our windows.’ 

For Sara, the first time she saw him was in May 2023. The Italian master student at the Faculty of Science and Engineering saw him peering through a five-centimetre gap between her curtains. ‘I opened them and asked him if he lived in our building, because the parking lot is private property. And he said: no, he was just taking a walk. He was very relaxed and seemed happy to see me. He told me I had a nice body and after that he just moved on to the next window.’

Sara was furious. ‘I was in my room, getting ready to go to sleep, and he was spying on me.’

She and her friends went outside to look for him, without success. However, when they went back inside, he turned up again. ‘That’s when we called 112. And after that we called the police again three or four times.’

Reached inside

The flasher started appearing multiple times a week. Usually he turned up around 2 a.m. One girl saw him completely naked. Another came out of her bathroom to discover the guy had reached inside to open the closed curtains. ‘Somebody also reported having seen him in the building, but I don’t know if that is true’, Sara says. 

The situation had a profound effect on the students involved. Sara didn’t feel comfortable on the ground floor anymore. She stayed with her boyfriend for a week, but never felt safe again in her room.  

‘They just invade your privacy like that’, Katarina explains. ‘Even if I closed all the curtains and turned the lights off, I still felt like maybe he was on the other side of the window.’


On top of that, the students didn’t feel their problem was being taken seriously by student housing corporation SSH. They had a hard time reaching the manager, says Sara. ‘They knew about the situation, but I had to beg them to help me. I sent so many emails, I had to call them so many times. I don’t know how many hours I spent just trying to talk to someone.’

I had to beg them to help me

The students wanted the lights in the parking lot fixed, which had been broken since February. They also asked for cameras in the parking lot and better security doors. ‘But they told us they couldn’t place cameras because of privacy rules. They also promised to fix the lighting, which didn’t happen’, Sara says. ‘Every time I asked, they were surprised: “Really? They haven’t fixed it yet?” They never checked on the progress.’

And even though SSH asked the building’s security to check more often, their shift ended at 1 a.m., while students reported the flasher appearing around 2 a.m.

Sara requested another room, but didn’t get one until a friend moved, approximately six weeks after the incident. 

Alice agrees SSH didn’t help much. ‘The manager was almost never there. The only response we got from SSH was that email that said “Lock your doors, keep the emergency doors closed, and we’re sorry that it happened”’, she says. 


The police weren’t much use either, the students say. The first time they called, they had to wait forty-five minutes for someone to turn up. By that time, the flasher was gone, Sara says. The students tried to provide the police with pictures and even a video, taken by a student from the first level of the building. ‘But they weren’t interested. They said they didn’t need it, unless the case would go to the investigation department.’

We feel so bad for the people who live there now

The second time, the police never even showed. But after the flasher had actually reached inside, they appeared faster. ‘But it would still take twenty minutes or so. And that’s plenty of time for him to get away’, Sara says. ‘We were left on our own.’

Spokesperson Lisa Plender of SSH says they did everything they could to address the situation at Winschoterdiep. ‘We contacted the local police and also asked our own security people to check the vicinity of the building more often.’

The lights in the parking lot took a long time to fix due to an electrical short circuit that had to be solved. The landlord previously reported in a response to UKrant that new doors have been ordered for the building and that more doors will be added, so that it is more difficult to just walk in. But SSH later withdrew that.

She does not recognise the problems with communication, though. ‘Our records show that there have been swift responses’, Plender says. ‘So I really don’t know why these students did not feel heard.’ 

Highest priority

The police, too, are aware of the fact that an exhibitionist is roaming the grounds of Winscho. ‘We know of the issue and when someone reports this we will always treat it with the highest priority’, says a spokesperson.

She wants to stress that it is very important that students call 112 and not the regular number for the police. ‘That way, our colleagues on the street can react more quickly’, she says. ‘It also increases the chance that we still find him on the premises.’

Why the police wouldn’t accept the video the students made, she cannot say, but she stresses that the police take the matter very seriously. ‘It is a criminal offence and it can have a great impact on the women involved.’

The community police officer will drop by at Winschoterdiep, she stressed, to make incoming students aware of the situation.

Meanwhile, Sara, Alice, and Katarina have moved out of Winscho, but they want to warn the new students. ‘We feel so bad for the people who live there now’, Katarina says. ’Sadly, these things will most likely happen to them as well.’

What to do when you are confronted by a flasher

  • Exhibitionism is a punishable offence. So if you see someone doing this, always call the emergency number 112. The police can act faster if you do.
  • Write down a description. Even if the man has fled, the police can still look out for him in the neighbourhood.
  • If the perpetrator is no longer around, you should still call 0900-8844 and report the situation. That way the police will know about it.