USG tackles recent campus safety issues

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

Sexual assault on campus took center stage last night at an open forum hosted by Undergraduate Student Government.

The discussion, which was created by Internal Affairs Senator Jason Snead, included members from Residence Life, the Wellness Center and the campus police station.

‘Contrary to common belief, sexual assault is not always committed by someone you don’t know,’ said Ashley Thompson, a peer educator at the Wellness Center. ‘A lot of times, it could be someone you invite to a dorm room late at night to study with.’

But most of these incidents are preceded by alcohol use, either by one or both of the people involved.

‘Alcohol is the number one predatory drug in assaults,’ said Ardy Gonyer, president of Bacchus Gamma. ‘It factors into a majority of attacks where either the victim or the perpetrators or both are intoxicated.’

Although alcohol is prohibited on campus for students under the age of 21, if a victim is attacked while drinking underage, he or she will not face any consequences for the drinking violation.

‘If a person is underage when they are attacked, they will not be charged with that crime,’ Police Chief Jim Weigand said. ‘The felony is much more important in the overall case.’

However, the panelists were quick to note that although this policy is reinforced in Bowling Green, it may differ at other universities across Ohio.

‘Ohio State University may have different rules regarding underage drinking, so students have to keep that in mind when reporting a sexual assault case,’ Thompson said. ‘But that doesn’t mean the assault shouldn’t be reported, which happens a lot when the victim is inebriated during the attack. It’s just so important to always report a sexual incident.’

If students do find themselves in the midst of an attack, the University has a number of safety measures that can be taken, namely the blue light system set up across campus.

‘The system is very similar to dialing 911,’ Weigand said. ‘A dispatcher will answer any calls and a police officer will be sent to the scene. If a person is unable to communicate what is going on, we will respond as if it is an emergency.’

Along with the blue light system, PED systems can be found installed in residence halls across campus.

Video cameras, which are currently set up in MacDonald and Conklin West, are also being considered in other dormitories as well.

‘New video cameras are definitely something we are looking into,’ said Tim Carney, the associate director of operations for Residence Life. ‘We would plan on putting them in elevators, entryways and hallways.’

Snead, who also facilitated the discussion, said he felt the panel was a success and hopes for another discussion about campus safety in the near future.

‘First of all, it helps the administrators get the word out about campus safety and the programs we have right now,’ he said. ‘And it also allows them to hear student concerns based on what’s offered right now and what we want to see down the road.’