Late-night sexual assault increases campus awareness

Students walk between the Student Health Center and Burk Hall Monday, Feb. 9, the location were a sexual assault was reported last Thursday.

An unknown subject allegedly groped a female’s breasts and groin and threatened her with a sharp object on campus Thursday morning, according to a report by University officials.

The University Police Department received reports just before 1 a.m. of a suspect who pulled a female victim into the bushes outside Burk Hall.

The assault continued until the victim cried out and the suspect fled, according to Title IX Coordinator and VP of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Luoluo Hong.

“At this time, we’re trying to balance sharing information with the community and protecting the privacy of the victim, so at this point we’re going to stick with the Clery alert,” Hong said.

The incident was not the first to be reported to Hong’s office this semester, but she could not provide specific figures due to Title IX policy, she said.

Some students said they questioned their safety on campus following the sexual battery incident last week.

Daniela Funes, a student in the pre-nursing program, was mugged on Font Boulevard in Parkmerced last year the night after the Giants won the World Series. Funes said her attacker shoved her to the ground and took off with her bag before she realized what was happening.

“I started crying,” Funes said. “I thought ‘I don’t know what to do right now.’ I felt really vulnerable.”

Since the attack, Funes said she has requested the escort service Campus Alliance for a Risk-free Environment every time she is on campus late at night.

“My only message is be more conscious about your surroundings because you never know when things like that are going to happen,” Funes said. “The University is not going to be there immediately.”

Despite the presence of services like CARE, some students are not aware of the resources available to them and many choose to travel alone on campus at night out of necessity.

Sophomore Kadiedra Crawford said she didn’t know SF State had an escort program.

“Maybe that’s something they should make more known,” Crawford said.

More frequent UPD patrols and better lighting were some ways the area could be made safer, Crawford said.

Design and industry student Kristina Ackerman had class in the Burk Hall Thursday night that ended around 10 p.m. Ackerman said she did not know if she felt safe on campus following the reported sexual assault.

Requests to speak with UPD regarding the sexual battery were redirected to the Title IX office in compliance with University procedure.

Hong said UPD will step up patrols in the area, but she did not specify how frequently they patrolled that corridor during weekday nights.

“The first thing I want to clarify is nobody can prevent an act of violence other than the perpetrator intent on committing the act,” Hong said.

The Title IX office is required to report instances of sexual violence on campus and within the UPD’s jurisdiction. The University also offers confidential support through the Sexual Abuse-Free Environment Place, a part of the of SF State’s Counseling and Psychological Services Center.

SAFE Place Program Coordinator Laurene Dominguez said that many students choose never to report instances of sexual violence against them.

“Not everyone wants to report and I really respect that,” Dominguez said. “If they’re not going to report, I want to make sure they’re safe, and all the other stuff is taken care of in terms of their health. It’s important that people have the right to decide what they want to do, even if friends and everybody is telling them to report.”

 

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Timothy Smith
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