On April 24, 2017, as Sexual Assault Awareness Month was coming to a close, IUPUI students were notified that campus police had received two separate reports of sexual assault. The first, which was reported as rape, occurred on April 21, and the second instance, reported as fondling, occurred on April 24.
Two days later, it has been reported by multiple Indianapolis news outlets that a third report of sexual assault was made on Monday, and that police believe the same person is responsible for all three assaults. The description of that suspect was included in the initial email from IUPUI, and is as follows:
“[Victims described] the male suspect as having a dark complexion (possibly Latino), approximately 5’6″ tall and weighing approximately 150lbs. On 04/24/17 the suspect was reported to be wearing a black backpack, black Nike basketball shorts, white Nike shoes and a maroon hooded sweatshirt. The suspected was also reported to have dark brown hair.”
The story, which has now been reported on by outlets such as The Indy Star, Fox 59, WRTV, and WISH-TV, is definitely alarming to me as a student of the university. Lesser so than the threat of sexual assault, but still unnerving, is the fact that as the investigation has continued, students have not heard any further information from their university.
As a female student who often traverses campus alone, I deserve to know that campus police have interviewed a person of interest in the case (as was reported by the outlets named above), and I shouldn’t have to get on Google and search out developments on cases which have directly impacted my fellow Jaguars.
I love and appreciate this university, but there have been several occasions when I have been more than dissatisfied with the way they oversee the security of its students. The Crime Notification emails do well by alerting students of the crimes, but often days later, a delay that I assume is the cause of processing the report. While I am sympathetic to the fact that the university does not want to alarm students by sending notifications prior to some investigation, I feel that being notified of an instance rape three days after the fact is unacceptable.
This delay leaves students like myself feeling unsafe, and at this key point in the semester, finals already have many of us severely distressed. The one email notification has also left me with more questions than answers – How did this happen? How did this keep happening, to the point that there are now three reports with the same suspect? What, exactly, are university police doing as part of this investigation? Who did they interview, and why were they the suspect?
Those are all questions that I believe the university owes its students. However, given the administration’s prior behavior, I’ll probably have to find the answers to those questions somewhere else.