No matter how many times they’re mopped, the entrance areas to Castleton’s residence halls are always littered with footprints this time of year. Footprints of students who trample in and out, tracking in sand and salt every step of the way. In a perfect world, no one would have to think twice about those footprints. The thought of them belonging to someone other than a faculty member or a student wouldn’t cross their minds.
But the world is not perfect. There are many dangers out there that the Castleton campus community should be aware of.
On Sunday Jan. 25, Castleton Director of Public Safety Bob Godlewski sent out a campus-wide e-mail shortly after 9:00 p.m. notifying the college of an alleged report of sexual assault on campus.
According to Godlewski’s e-mail, the alleged assault occurred in the vicinity of Haskell Hall sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m Sunday morning. The victim was a woman who was visiting the campus.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Castleton Dean of Students Greg Stone. “But through our investigation so far there’s no heightened threat.”
That said, Stone claimed the e-mail was meant to be a warning to all students in hopes of heightening their sensitivities about incidents like this.
“If it’s dark out, I don’t go outside unless I’m with someone,” said sophomore Kelsey LaPoint.
All over campus, flyers of the e-mailed alert were posted. In every residence hall a bright neon sign clings to the window that screams “Safety First; Don’t Prop Open Doors.”
Godlewski reiterates the sign’s important message.
“We’re asking that people don’t prop open the doors,” he said adamantly. “We make our rounds every night and by the time we come back they’re usually propped open.”
Public Safety usually patrols more toward the resident side of campus, but in efforts to keep our campus a safer place, more personnel have been added to the evening shifts, Godlewski said.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen the doors propped open,” said LaPoint, “but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.”
Some residence halls even have neon magnets that cling to the widow frames of CA offices that say, “Stick with Safety” printed on them, along with the phone numbers to Castleton Police and Public Safety.
Sophomore Ashley Fillmore, a Community Advisor in Haskell Hall, said that the alleged incident didn’t just affect her and her fellow CA’s.
“It effected everyone in the building,” Fillmore said. “You could just tell. Even the guys were freaked out, they kept checking on us.”
Fillmore’s comments would put Linda Olson, co-chair of Castleton’s C.H.A.N.G.E. Initiative program at ease.
Olson had hoped that men would be taking a more active role in all this.
“They can help by reducing attitudes that contribute to sexual assault,” Olson said. “With our One-in-Four program, men create awareness and make themselves allies.”
This has been the first report of alleged sexual assault since last September, when two separate allegations of sexual assault occurred within weeks of each other.
Both reported victims didn’t wish to involve the authorities at the time.
“In sexual assault cases you have to honor what the victim wants,” Olson said. “It’s frustrating at sometimes, but it’s extremely important.”
Olson’s C.H.A.N.G.E. program, which stands for Creating, Honoring, Advocating, Nurturing Gender Equity, is striving to create a matrix of support for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence who come forward.
When asked about future precautions, Dean Stone mentioned considering “prop alarms” to sound if the doors are open for too long. Godlewski also confirmed that Physical Plant is working hard to finalize the “prop alarm” proposal for all the doors. Talk of security cameras in front of residence halls also surfaced.
But Stone posed the perfect question: “At what level of privacy intrusion are you willing to trade for safety?”
If you or someone you know needs help, it is available.
The Wellness Center 468-1346
Public Safety 468-1215
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1(800)799-SAFE
National Sexual Assault Hotline 1(800) 656-HOPE
For more information on Castleton’s C.H.A.N.G.E. Initiative go to www.caslteton.edu/Change/Index.htm