The last five Miami University Police Department (MUPD) safety bulletins have been reported sexual assaults from North Quad. The rise in this area of campus has led some students to wonder what caused the increase and if they are safe on North Quad.
Sophomores Makayla Washington and Olivia Kelly have lived in North Quad for two years and recall last year when sexual assault reports weren’t solely from North Quad.
“I know last year, a lot of the safety bulletins were coming from South Quad, Central Quad, East Quad and North Quad kind of felt like a haven more or less, we didn't really get any of that but now it's like they're all here.” Washington said. “It's not just disappointing, but it's also kind of concerning because it's just like, “Is it gonna be me? Is it not.’”
Kelly takes precautions living in North Quad.
“When I’m walking home as soon as it gets dark, I’ll be on the phone with somebody,” Kelly said.
Lauren Doepke, executive advocacy director for Sexual Assault Survivor Support (SASS), said in every year there is a period defined as a “red zone” when the majority of sexual assaults occur from August until October.
Doepke said she thinks those months are more likely to have occurrences of sexual assault because that’s when students come back to campus for the school year.
“The freshmen that come to campus, this is their first experience being on their own, most likely, [and] it's their first experience, sometimes with alcohol, sometimes with drugs,” Doepke said. “It's their first experience generally being able to do things and make decisions completely on their own as an adult, and that transition leaves people extremely vulnerable. You're trying to make new friends, you're trying to get people to like you, you're trying to figure out the campus culture and fit in. And all of those things are big indicators for a predator to say, ‘Okay, this is easy prey.’”
This year, the red zone occurred later. Doepke said the delay of bringing students back on campus could have been a factor in the time difference.
“I feel like that same general tendency could be a little bit of what we're seeing right now, is just that timeframe has been shifted, because of differences in when students are on campus,” Doepke said.
North Quad only has one bus route partially going through the entire quad, while South Campus has four and parts of Western Campus have five.
Despite the lack of bus routes in North Quad, Jayne Brownell, vice president for student affairs, said transportation is an unlikely reason for the disproportionate amount of sexual assaults on North Quad.
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“Our issue is not the stranger jumping out of the bushes, our issue is not a stranger attacking someone on campus.” Brownell said. “Just like the national statistics about sexual assault, particularly for college students, it is almost always people who are known to each other.”
Doepke expressed concerns for students' lack of confidence in their understanding of consent.
“I think that we have to understand that, especially in America, we do not have comprehensive sex [education],” Doepke said.
MUPD’s Captain Jim Bechtolt shared advice for students staying safe.
“I think just being aware of your surroundings, being hyper aware of your surroundings is extremely important,” Bechtolt said.
Staying safe and educated on consent, Doepke said, is something that everyone must work together to learn.
“I think Miami students as a community can do better to really hold each other accountable,” Doepke said. “That community accountability aspect is invaluable, and then [students can] educate each other.”