On Oct. 31, two people were victims of sexual battery on campus when they were harassed by eight to 10 white males between the ages of 13 and 15, according to a Nov. 1 email sent out by Public Safety.
The assailants were already inside of Henley Hall when the incident occurred, the email said. Even though this group of boys clearly did not belong there, someone let them inside the locked building. It’s time for Chapman to reevaluate security in residence life areas.
Chapman is often viewed as a safe campus. In the past three years, there have been two incidents of robbery, one incident of aggravated assault and seven incidents of arson, according to the 2017 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report. But it’s too easy for someone who doesn’t live in the dorms to get inside.
This is not the first time the campus has had problems in residence life areas with people who are not students. In December 2014, a Chapman student let a homeless man into the Glass Hall.
“The explicit mistake I made was allowing a non-student on campus and misjudging how well I knew this person,” Grant Webster, a then-freshman television writing and production major, told The Panther about the incident.
In April, three men posed as Chapman students and tried to solicit money from Harris Hall students by selling books and magazines. Director of Residence Life and First Year Experience Dave Sundby wrote in an email following the incident that the men involved seemed to target rooms with women, and made romantic advances toward female students.
After this incident, at least one camera was placed in the area near the residence halls that were targeted. Although it’s unclear if this resulted from the solicitors, adding more cameras is a good step toward keeping students safer. There are more than 300 cameras throughout campus, including 64 in residence life, Chief of Public Safety Randy Burba said. Even though Orange is seen as a safe, quiet town, that doesn’t mean crime does not exist here. A sexual battery occurred in a residence hall. That is not something to be taken lightly.
There are several options that Public Safety and other university officials could consider to keep students safe. Some schools, like the University of Southern California, have an officer stationed outside of dorm buildings that require a student ID to get in, according to the university website. Occidental College’s campus safety makes occasional rounds through residence halls, looking for suspicious behavior, according to the university website.
But perhaps the most important thing is to promote widespread campus vigilance. Even if someone doesn’t look threatening (as these teenage boys may not have), if something seems out of place, keep your guard up. Don’t keep doors propped open. Call Public Safety to report suspicious behavior. Don’t swipe people into buildings. It’s important for students to be involved in the conversation of what will make them feel safer. Perhaps engaging students in a town hall on this topic would be beneficial to gain input from the community.