This article was updated with new information on Sept. 7, 2022
An Ohio man was recently sentenced to four to six years in prison for the attempted rape of a Miami University student.
The crime occurred on July 24, 2021, when a passerby reported to the Oxford Police Department that a female Miami student was lying in her front yard crying and said she’d been raped.
While the Miami University Police Department (MUPD) did not issue a safety bulletin for this incident — the man was found several hours after the report was filed — his conviction has led members of the Miami community to question whether providing updates to past bulletins would be beneficial.
The MUPD Safety Bulletin is “provided to give students, faculty and staff timely notification about certain crimes in and around our community that may present a threat to the campus community and to heighten safety awareness,” according to the MUPD website.
The bulletin is also used to request from the public any information that may assist the police in its investigation. In addition to the case details and suspect description (if provided), the bulletins also include “crime prevention tips, information on who to contact about the case, date and time the bulletin was released, and other relevant and important information.”
Logan Harvey, a sophomore art history and social justice studies double major and treasurer for Sexual Assault Survivor Support (SASS), said they don’t feel that the current safety bulletins are very helpful.
“[The bulletins] couldn’t be more vague,” Harvey said. “I know from speaking to my friends, male and female, that they don’t feel any safer getting those bulletins because there’s nothing to get from them.”
Evelynn Beyerle, a senior family science and psychology double major, felt similarly that the safety bulletins are of little help.
“They don’t really give you any information you can use to protect yourself,” Beyerle said. “And they don’t really change what we know about how prevalent sexual assault is on campus. They’re just harsh reminders of how bad it is.”
While Harvey admitted the bulletins have areas for improvement, they don’t think Miami should do away with them entirely.
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“I think they are ultimately good to have, but I would like to see follow-ups of some sort,” Harvey said. “The way it stands now, you get a safety bulletin, the case doesn’t go anywhere, that person who is alleged to have done that thing is still on campus.”
While Harvey acknowledged the MUPD may be limited in the information it can publicly provide, they’d appreciate even general updates, such as whether a report results in criminal proceedings.
If MUPD outlined the actions it was taking in investigating these reports, Harvey said it would make the campus feel more secure.
“I think [it’d be] helpful and beneficial for the community as a whole and the safety of this campus if there’s at least some general sense of like ‘Hey, here’s what we’re doing about people that are doing these things on our campus,’” Harvey said. “I would very much like to see more from Miami.”
Harvey thinks providing follow-ups to the safety bulletins may also encourage more people to file reports if they are sexually assaulted.
“Talking to my friends that are survivors, a lot of people don’t want to go forward because they know or feel pretty certain it’s not going to go anywhere,” Harvey said. “If they think they’re going to have to relive their trauma, to however many strangers, however many adults, and it’s all going to be for nothing, then they’re like ‘What’s the point?’”
Beyerle had a different perspective on safety bulletins and how they can be improved. She doesn’t think any modifications, such as updates or more specific information, would improve the Bulletins unless Miami takes further action to support survivors.
“I’ve known people who have ended up going to classes with their rapists,” Beyerle said. “I’ve known people who have seen no support, and have almost been gaslighted when trying to talk to Miami about getting help.”
Beyerle said the bulletins make it seem like the university takes the reports seriously, but their actions suggest the opposite.
“The only way Miami can do anything about this is to start taking steps towards real consequences and not just announcing how much they care or talking about what you can do to protect yourself,” she said. “Miami promotes bystander awareness … rather than taking action for the students and community they’re in charge of facilitating.”
Ashlea Jones, director of executive communications at Miami, wrote in an email to the Miami Student that the MUPD is required by law to send timely warnings to the public when certain crimes are reported.
"In order to maintain the value of timely warning bulletins within the community, it’s not standard practice to send a follow up via email," Jones wrote on behalf of the MUPD. "However, updates are made to our website where the timely warning was posted. Everyone receives that link in the bulletin."
Miami’s sexual assault resource guide can be accessed here. Along with information on the reporting process, the site offers advice on what to do if you or someone you know is sexually assaulted.
Sexual assault survivors who wish to report an incident can contact campus security enforcement, including the Miami University Police Department at 513-519-2222, the Oxford Police Department at 513-523-4321, the Coordinator of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program at 513-529-1870 and any athletic coaches, academic or student organization advisor.
If students wish to speak to a non-mandatory reporter for confidential support, they can call or text Miami’s campus-based support specialists from WomenHelpingWomen at 513-431-1111.