A rise in sexual assaults cause campuses to be on alert

Sexual assaults on and off campus serves as a reminder students to be aware and stay safe while going to class.

By Savannah Simmons, Staff Writer

With a jogger who was sexually battered near Valley College and a rise in reported rape cases at a CSUN, officials warn students to be cautious both on and off campus.

While running on Fulton Avenue next to Valley College, a female jogger was sexually battered by a man who came up from behind and fondled her breasts. The woman struggled and quickly broke free by elbowing and kicking her attacker, which caused him to release her and flee the scene.

“It will say it did not occur on campus but for the students and staff to be aware of their surroundings,” said Deputy Melvin Young of Valley College’s sheriff’s station.

With the Clery Act, all colleges and universities are required to disclose information about any crime on or in immediate vicinity of the campus. A special bulletin by the sheriff’s office was posted around school in various places such as the doors to buildings, cafeteria, and Student Health Center explaining the incident and giving a description of the suspect. The suspect was described as a 5 foot 5 inch, thin built, Hispanic male about 25-30 years old with a long mustache and small goatee.

Nearby, California State University Northridge is going through a bout of sexual misconduct seeing an uptick in rape cases from the past few years. In 2016, there were 14 reported cases of rape with five in 2015 and 2 in 2014. Most of the reported cases happened at campus housing and most victims knew their attackers.

The social media hashtag “#metoo” has quickly gained popularity with women sharing their stories of sexual misconduct that they have experienced. The confidence to stand up and speak out about victims attackers may be, in part, thanks to the comfort people have felt while reading thousands of tweets and posts that have been shared, giving a sense of community and togetherness.

With the attack so close to campus and the nearby CSUN rape case rise, it is important to remember to stay safe. Staying safe and keeping aware of your surroundings is a must at all times, not just on campus.

“I think our students are safe but they should stay mindful.” said Dean of Career Technical Education, Laurie Nalepa. “ As a late night dean, I always want to be safe and make smart choices.”

Some safety tips the sheriff’s station lists on their website are to have a safety buddy that you can call if you need a ride or help, know where there are “panic phones” available to use on campus, and have your keys ready when you get to your car for quick entry.

Escorts from the sheriff’s department are also available for students and staff to and from classes upon request.  Nalepa reminds students to be mindful and walk where there are lights and other people around but she herself even takes full advantage of the sheriff’s escort and uses them when she is getting to her car at night.

If you would like a sheriff’s escort or feel you are in danger while on campus, call the sheriff’s station at 818-947-2911. If you are off campus, call 911 immediately for help in a dangerous situation.

 

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