College campuses have been becoming more violent in recent years. While each college will always have their minor bumps in the road, it appears that more incidents are occurring without any influence from the hands of the students themselves.
According to LancasterOnline, an event took place this past month at Millersville University that involved three teenage boys who attacked several students and stole their cash and electronics as the students were leaving their apartment. The teens advanced on the students, asking to borrow a cell phone. The attackers then took off with said phone, and the student to whom it belonged confronted them and was assaulted. Two of the remaining students were attacked, one of whom the assailants forced onto the ground, where he was kicked several times. A third subject was beaten and had his wallet stolen.
After the robbery took place, the police tracked down the boys, two of whom were cousins, by discovering their presence at a pizza shop and several parties that night. The pizza shop’s surveillance footage pinned the teens to the scene and the assaulted students positively identified them.
In regards to feeling safe around the Millersville campus after such an event, Millersville student Vanessa Trankle commented on the subject.
“I feel Millersville University is a safe campus. There are emergency call poles all over campus, and there are always campus police patrolling,” said Trankle. “I always feel safe walking to my off-campus apartment alone after my night class.”
Millersville Campus Police were unavailable for comment, but it seems as if this type of violence is not limited to a chance encounter on campuses around the area. Elizabethtown College was also the site of several incidents that involved outside parties, including the theft of items from cars located in Hackman and Brown Lots. There also was a sexual assault that occurred outside the Vera Hackman Apartments at the beginning of October. Reported in the Campus Security Blotter and LancasterOnline, a 17-year-old sexually assaulted a female student who was leaving the apartments to visit her boyfriend. The assailant was detained by a male student, reportedly the female’s boyfriend, and apprehended by Campus Security, then arrested by the Elizabethtown Borough Police.
An event such as the sexual assault, along with other smaller instances of theft and indecent intoxication make the crime rate of the College appear to have increased, compared to previous years. Dale Boyer, the assistant director of Campus Security at Etown, commented on this observation. “The crime rate ebbs and flows, just like it would at any other campus,” Boyer stated.
According to the crime rate statistics of the College, theft is one of the misdemeanors that happen most frequently on the campus, rivaled only by drug abuse and liquor violations. According to Boyer, cars parked in Brown Lot are more susceptible to petty theft because students do not drive their cars to and from Brown Lot as frequently as those parked in other areas. Dust from stones and leaves collects on cars, making it seem as if items inside the vehicles are easier to pilfer because of the reduced likelihood that students will immediately notice what is missing.
Boyer urged students to lock their vehicles, rooms, bikes and other items to ensure the ultimate safety of the student. Boyer said, “This is one of the reoccurring themes on campus,” in reference to students not locking up possessions. Boyer explained the cars that had objects stolen from them recently were not broken into but were simply unlocked vehicles of which someone took advantage.
“Students feel that this is Etown College and nothing bad ever happens here,” said Boyer. “But it does happen here just as it does anywhere else.”
As assistant director of Campus Security, Boyer emphasized the safety measures that students should take to keep themselves, and their possessions, out of harm’s way. “I try to stress that you take precautions here so that when you move out into the real world, to somewhere like New York or Philadelphia, you’re in the habit of locking your cars and houses or taking stuff with you,” Boyer said.
In regards to thoughts that there is a rise in criminal activity on campus, Boyer does not think it has been any worse than usual, except for a few unique occurrences.
“Some of it, I think, is a result of better communication around campus,” Boyer stated in reference to students being more aware of what is going on, particularly that which affects the crime rate, around the College. “With a rising awareness on how to do things and better communication, we’re getting information out to the students in a better manner than we did before.”
As a form of prevention for any further incidents on campus involving assaults or theft, Boyer talked about an international women’s program called Rape Aggression Defense (RAD), that Etown has had in effect since 1995. RAD teaches female students how to defend themselves both physically and mentally in the event of an attack. Boyer teaches students several techniques to keep themselves safe by being smart about their belongings and making sure that they don’t reveal too much information about themselves in public places. He also instructs the students on how to physically defend themselves by learning methods to harm their attacker.
“It’s a very dynamic program,” Boyer said. “Ultimately, this is a life decision, something that you’re learning to protect yourself that could save your life.”
Boyer goes on to say how such a program affects someone as a student and how you would retain this information with you when you leave Etown, and have your own home to take care of.
The on campus RAD program scheduled a self-defense class earlier in the semester that was delayed due to the flooding. This class is 12 hours long and spans over a weekend, with a four-hour class on Friday night, as well as Saturday and Sunday morning. There will be another class at some point this semester. If this is something that you are interested in, you can go to their website, www.rad-systems.com, to learn more about what the RAD program has to offer.