Early into the 2018-19 school year, multiple accounts of being followed and harassed around the Muncie area were posted on social media.
However, only one incident was reported to the University Police Department, said UPD chief Jim Duckham.
Social media reports can be tricky, Duckham said, because information that may be unfounded is spread quickly. Because of this, the department can have a hard time tracing the information back to the original person who actually saw what occurred.
Although, UPD hasn’t seen a consistent pattern of reports of being followed, Duckham said there are a few things students can do to keep themselves safe such as:
- Walking without earbuds
- Walking in well-lit areas after dark
- Traveling in groups
- Calling Charlie’s Charter
- Calling UPD as soon as something seems off
During the “Red Zone,” a period that marks the first day of the semester to fall break, over 50 percent of sexual assaults occur on college campuses nationwide.
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one out of five women and one out of 71 men are victims of sexual assault. Members of the LGBTQ community have a higher risk of sexual assault, as reported by the Human Rights Campaign.
“Some things that can contribute to it are younger people that are on our campus, that have just come to campus, they don’t have a social group yet. So they may be going out with people they don’t necessarily trust or know very well,”said president of Step In. Speak Up. Althea McWilliams.
“Some people aren’t really experienced drinkers when they come to college so they don’t know how to manage their alcohol. They may not have some of the experiences that more seasoned college student has had so they may just act a little more recklessly or without that information.”
Binge drinking, defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is a pattern of drinking that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels to 0.08g/dL. This is typically four drinks for women and five drinks for men after a two hour period.
“We try to educate people as soon as we can with certain tips but definitely walking in groups and making sure you have as much of a social support system as you can. You can always have a party pal or a buddy you’re going to stay with the entire night,” McWilliams said.
If ever witnessing any form of sexual misconduct, Step In. Speak Up. encourages students to utilize the Three D’s — delegate, distract and direct — which allows students to choose which way they’d like to handle the situation.
“So, our primary goal is to educate people on consent and being an active bystander, raising awareness on sexual assault statistics on campus [and learning] how people can report, confidentiality or non confidentiality,” McWilliams said.
Students can also call University Police at 765-285-1111 or 911.
“If you feel like it bothered you or you know when you have that sense of where something doesn’t feel right, we ask students to call,” Duckham said.”Most people have their cell phones so you could certainly call 911 or our phone number. If you want the campus police we talk about it all the time, you gotta dial us directly.”
Contact Ayah Eid with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.