A little over a week ago, Bates students had received an alarming email, which detailed an assault that had taken place on campus. It discussed the nature of the attack and the subsequent arrest of the anonymous perpetrator. The email, which caused many students to worry, has Bates students talking about the safety of our campus and the procedures put in place to stop sexual assault.
Students have expressed concern with an ever-present atmosphere of sexual assault and rape in the Bates and Lewiston/Auburn community.
“I definitely wouldn’t walk alone after hearing that. It freaked me out,” Augy Silver ‘18 said. “Saturday night, we were walking by [55 Campus Ave.] and one of our teammates was walking alone. We said, “Oh she can’t walk alone.” We ran after her. Even if an assault like that may not happen again, I’m definitely more vigilant after the incident.”
In order to prevent on-campus attacks and protect students, Bates College Security has implemented procedures to keep to teach students about safety and provide resources for victims of attacks.
“At orientation and throughout the year, much of the programming by the [Dean of Students] and TIX office goes into steps all can to take to minimize and reduce the likelihood of any type of assault,” Director of Security and Campus Safety said. “Physical actions include the institution of e-access control, limits to public access to all buildings on campus, significant lighting upgrades around campus and buildings, emergency phones throughout campus and in buildings, students reminded by policy to not walk or run alone at night or in remote places, and close coordination and cooperation with the LPD, etc. when an incident takes place. Most importantly, if something does transpire, we take a very close look at bit to see what if anything we can learn from it and do better.”
According to the Bates Security Clery Act Crime Statistics Annual Report, from 2011-2014 there have been 34 reported cases of either rape or forcible fondling, 8 reported cases of stalking, and 5 reported cases of dating violence that have occurred on campus. However, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center has found that only 10% of cases of sexual assault are reported.
Some students feel as though the sexual assault and fondling have become a normalized facet of social life at Bates. Many female students feel that they have to expect some level of sexual aggravation when walking into a party.
“I think that it’s so normalized. For example, Bardwell basement is constantly being described as “a rapey place” but that language becomes so embedded in our day-to-day conversations,” Lisa Slivken ‘18 said. “I think we’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable and we’ve accepted this reality. You expect that someone might come up to you at 80s and you won’t necessarily think twice about it.”
Some students, however, feel as though the email may have scared freshman into a partially unrealistic view of Bates and the outer community.
“It was bad timing coming off the first weekend of school. All the freshman had just gone through orientation where they talk about how Lewiston is very safe, 7th lowest crime rate in the state of Maine. And to see that email, it was probably more shocking and worrisome for them,” Sophie Olmsted ‘18 said. “However, I think it was awesome that they said that they caught the guy and that he was arrested. They gave us specifics. They didn’t just say we got the guy. They specified and said that he was arrested. I think that was important that they included that as well. In some ways, that was more reassuring for me.”
The undeniable reality is that sexual assault is present on all college campuses, including Bates’. The procedures put into place have been created to make Bates a safer and more understanding environment. The administration and security office understand that this issue is very important and their procedures have helped reduce sexual violence. If you or a friend ever feels unsafe at Bates, please don’t hesitate to contact 911 or security at 207-786-6111.