Over the course of this weekend, Public Safety (PSafe) sent out emails alerting the community to four separate incidents of assault on campus, including one that took place on the centrally located Andrus Field. An email sent out on Monday, Oct. 22 by Vice President for Student Affairs Mike Whaley and Director of Public Safety Dave Meyer advised students to take precautions at night and also reminded students to protect their computers after the string of laptop thefts that have occurred throughout the first several weeks of the semester.
Meyer noted that the University is responding immediately to the reports.
“We want students to realize that we take these very seriously,” Meyer said on Monday. “The University is concerned…[and we’re] starting to hire extra patrols, effective tonight.”
Though PSafe normally increases its staff on weekends, Meyer said that he is now increasing the total number of staff all week, not only by adding extra PSafe officers but also by hiring Middletown Police to supplement the patrols. He said that the increased patrols will operate through this Halloween weekend, and that after the weekend PSafe will reassess operations to see what is needed for the future.
One of the students who was assaulted early on Sunday morning, a member of the class of 2014 who wished to remain anonymous, said he was surprised that this happened to him during his time at Wesleyan.
“I do feel unsafe now, especially due to the increased amount of incidences on campus lately,” he wrote in an email to The Argus. “I never expected to be assaulted during my time here, especially by someone who doesn’t even attend this school and had no right to be on our campus.”
When asked if he thought the assaults stemmed from the same group of individuals, Meyer said he was not sure. Due to the incidents’ abruptness, the physical descriptions of assailants were vague.
Meyer added that the increase in assaults this weekend could possibly be linked to the fact that the campus was crowded and busy because of Homecoming Weekend.
“Especially on a weekend like this when there were so many visitors [it could be more likely],” he said. “Things were occurring at a time when there was a lot of pedestrian traffic.”
The first PSafe alert came this Friday, when a female student reported that a man, who did not appear to be college age, approached her and put his arm around her. That same night, several students walking on High and Church were approached by several non-students who chased them and physically assaulted one of the students. Though the incident was not reported until Saturday afternoon, one of the suspects in the attack has been arrested on unrelated charges after being identified by a student attending a party on Fountain Avenue on Sunday morning.
The next altercation between students and non-students occurred early Sunday morning in the LoRise complex. One of the students involved required a visit to the hospital for facial injuries. Anonymous ’14 explained that he was with his friends in the LoRise courtyard when they were approached by non-students.
“A group of six non-Wesleyan students walked by us through LoRise and made obnoxious comments to us how we were drunk, stupid idiots,” he wrote. “I then said that they don’t even go here…I was trying to imply that they’re not students here and have no right to come on to our campus during Homecoming and insult us. After the comment, they all got very upset, and it was clear that they had pre-existing feelings toward all Wesleyan students because they were yelling at us about how they had more money than we did. I told them not to come here and hassle us and expect us not to say anything and that they should just leave. And then they got physical with us and hit everyone involved, even innocent bystanders.”
The last assault of the weekend took place on Sunday at 9:00 p.m, when a student walking across Andrus Field was approached by three individuals. As the email describes, the non-students pulled out what is thought to have been an Airsoft gun and demanded the student’s belongings. The incident resulted in a physical exchange between the student and the anonymous individuals, with the individuals eventually fleeing toward Washington Street. The student was treated for injuries to his face at the hospital.
Meyer stressed the need for students to take actions that promote their own safety. In the email sent Monday, Whaley suggested that students should take advantage of campus shuttles such as the RIDE, try to travel in groups along well-lit and well-travelled routes, and lock their doors and windows at all times.
“[PSafe] is doing a lot,” he said. “But we need the help of the students.”
Anonymous ’14 said that he thought PSafe was doing the best they possibly could, especially given how open the campus is to the rest of the Middletown community. He said that because of the incident he is now more inclined to take more precautions.
“I’m definitely not even going to talk to any non-Wesleyan student that is on campus that I do not know,” he wrote. “I’m not going to walk around campus at night as much, and I may utilize the [RIDE] more often now.”