By David Rixham
Three weeks ago an alleged armed sexual assault occurred at Worcester State University and still very little information is being released to the students and to the public. Due to local and national rape shield laws, the information is being held from the public at this time.
“It would be nice to know more information about the investigation,” said WSU student Samantha Patterson. “Perhaps knowing where it happened would allow us to all be a little safer in those areas of the campus.”
Some students have criticized safety precautions on campus feeling that there is not enough presence of campus officers or security cameras.
“There are just not enough cameras here. Unfortunately, it seems likely that something could be missed,” said Patterson; a thought echoed by other WSU students.
The university has stepped up its security measures since the event occurred, employing more ground personnel and extra patrol.
“We here in law enforcement want to keep you safe and give you the feeling of freedom,” said Worcester State Chief of Police Michael Nockunas.
Statistics show that one-in-five women and one-in-twelve men will experience a sexual violent act committed against them, a number that many officials presume is larger, but this statistic is skewed by the amount of people that do not notify police or other law enforcement.
“The key factor in all this is education about the crime,” said Rosie Naughton, Associate Dean and Title IX Deputy at Worcester State. “Crime can happen anytime, that’s where the education helps.”
Students have seen an increase in foot patrol since the alleged assault happened. Officers have been frequently seen walking around all parts of the campus.
“You never really noticed them before,”said student Jordan Tredeau. “But since this assault and investigation it seems like the patrol officers are keeping their eyes on everything. I never really felt their presence on lower campus before, but I’ve seen them in the parking lots, around Sullivan, and in the Student Center.”
Any student who may feel unsafe is urged to call campus police. University police offer escort service to all students according to Nockunas. The escorts are designed to have students, male or female, be walked to their dorm safely by a campus officer. Nockunas says the only downside to the service is on busy nights there may not be enough officers to help escort students.
Nockunas urges that students should continue to feel safe on campus.
“We have officers in the cruisers. We have officers at night that will walk around. We have emergency call boxes. The student has their cell phone…they pick up their cell phone and call 911,” said Nockunas.
Students should contact university police if they have any information about the investigation or notice any suspicious behavior. The investigation remains in progress and no further information will be given until verified by law enforcement. WSU campus police and Massachusetts State Police continue to work together during this investigation.