By Carley Crain
On Feb. 14, the Springfield College campus community received an email, phone call and text from the Department of Public Safety about a sexual assault that happened in Gulick Hall on Feb. 13 at around 1 A.M.
These communications were provided to the college community because of the Federal Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistic Act of 1998. This requires colleges across the country to “disclose information about certain crimes that occur on or near campus,” according to The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Over a week after the incident, the college community has not been provided with any more updates on the case.
The initial email from public safety described the suspect as a “white male, with a mullet-like haircut and some short facial hair, an athletic build with calloused hands.”
Public Safety is still not certain whether the suspect is a student on campus. The investigation is ongoing, and video footage from Gulick Hall is being reviewed.
“We don’t know if the perpetrator is a student or non-student, that is why it is an ongoing threat, which is why the timely warning went out because we do not have that information,” said Dr. Slandie Dieujuste, Springfield College Vice President of Student Affairs.
The survivor is safe and being looked after by the college, according to Dieujuste.
“We have the responsibility as an institution under federal law to support the survivor,” Dieujuste said. “But even if we weren’t required to, frankly if that wasn’t even the law we would because that is the type of community that we are. We take care of students.”
Under federal and state laws, however, if the perpetrator is a student, their name must remain confidential, but Springfield has insisted that the survivor is being cared for.
The college recommends that students and staff members call Public Safety immediately if anything seems suspicious. They were also advised not to prop any doors, be aware of their surroundings, download the RAVE Guardian app and lock residence halls at all times. Public Safety also advised that students should save its number on their phone, which is (413) 748-5555. Public Safety can respond to calls on campus in less than a minute.
“We are all on the same side, on the same team trying to solve this,” said Springfield College Chief of Police Joe Tiraboschi.
For Gulick residents and Resident Assistants, the lingering uncertainty about the suspect has heightened anxiety and fear immensely. Some Gulick residents went home or stayed with friends in other dorms because they didn’t feel safe.
“The way they described the suspect, it made me suspicious because of the all guys’ floor. I am kind of scared about that,” said a freshman Gulick resident.
“I have noticed there are a lot more police officers around the Union, a lot more patrolling, ” said the Gulick resident when asked if the dorm has been more secure lately.
Other Springfield students feel frustrated and upset about the situation.
“It didn’t surprise me, and that is disappointing to me,” said a student who is involved with the club Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) and Vagina Monologues who wanted to remain anonymous, when asked about what their response was when they found out about this case.
Some students also feel that the college isn’t being transparent about the rate of sexual assault on campus.
“This school needs to advocate for sexual assault victims. I just feel like there is more that can be done. In my entire four years here I have heard of these cases, and women reporting to Title IX and it didn’t go anywhere,” said a student who is involved with SAVE and Vagina Monologues.
The student is working with others on organizing an event to spread awareness regarding this situation.
“We are definitely going to do something and put something together to show support [for sexual assault awareness],” said the student.
Photo: Springfield College