Students, campus police on high alert following assault reports

Mark Feuerborn

Washburn students have been slightly on edge lately, following the report of a disturbing event near Washburn Village.

Around 7:10 p.m., a man described as a white male with brown hair and facial hair approached a woman. He was seen driving a white or light colored vehicle.

Following this, around 7:35 p.m., another woman reported being approached by a man with brown hair, a moustache, and a goatee who exposed himself and attempted to grab her breasts.

Students have been reminded to stay safe on campus following these incidents and are urged to report any information regarding them to the campus police.

Washburn Chief of Police Dean Forster expressed his opinions on the incident, and commended the two women involved for their smart response.

“They were obviously scared, but still, I don’t think they were overwhelmed, they got good descriptions,” said Forster.

He also added that there were more witnesses to these incidents than originally thought, who provided additional information.

“There were some other students who were not involved in this, but happened to see what happened, and they came forward and gave us some good information. We’re in the process now of working with Crime Stoppers to put what we believe is a picture of the car that was involved in this on Crime Stoppers,” said Forster.

Forster is confident the Washburn Police Department has the ability to handle this case, as well as continue to keep the campus safe, thanks to their experienced staff and technology.

“What I want to stress is that this isn’t indicative that the campus isn’t safe,” said Forster. “There’s about 92 camera locations on campus that we monitor, that’s actually where we got the picture [of the car].I’m meeting with student government to talk about some bushes, I’d like to see them cut down or trimmed back, making it a little harder for somebody to hide.”

We’ve got an investigator that we use on callback, he’s got about 40 years of experience. We do have the capability to investigate crimes, and we do have the ability to deter crimes with all the security equipment we have on this campus.” said Forster.

Freshman and Kuehne Hall occupant Cameron Crouch also expressed faith in the campus police regarding this incident.

“Washburn Police will ultimately catch this man, I truly do believe that,” said Crouch.

While Crouch believes he is safe, he shared his concerns regarding potential stalkers at night.

“I feel safe walking around campus, but that is because I am a male,” said Crouch. “Women I feel should be more hesitant.”

Viviana Molina, a freshman living in the Living Learning Center, is more worried for her safety.

“I have to be at work by 5 a.m. sometimes,” said Molina. “I sometimes feel nervous walking around campus when I get up to leave at 4:40 in the morning.”

Ray Monje, another resident of the LLC, believes he has nothing to worry about.

“I feel safe,” said Monje. “If any man were to flash me, I’d literally just hospitalize him.”

Many of the students exchanged thoughts on how to stay safe around campus. Generally, the consensus was that using the buddy system, or traveling in groups, was the best idea.

Another idea that was strongly encouraged was to carry some kind of self defense, such as a can of mace, or a stun gun. Taking a class on self-defense is another good idea. Most Tae Kwon Doe or Karate dojos offer classes.

“It’s not that hard to make a fist and take a swing,” said Monje. “Still, I would travel in groups and don’t be hesitant to jump someone.”

“Carry some mace, and stay in places where there’s light. Always have the Washburn Police number in your phone contacts,” added Molina.

Forster believes that the emergency phones around campus should be seen as “help phones,” as the word “emergency” carries a tone that might cause a student to hesitate before using them.

“It doesn’t have to be an emergency, if you just want to ask directions to a parking lot, that’s fine to use those phones,” said Forster. “There’s 14 of them around the campus, situated everywhere that we think are walking paths. Any time of the day or night, if you’re nervous about where you’re going, just call. If you don’t like the looks of something, just give us a call.”