The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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SMU responds to recent sexual assaults

There have been three charges of sexual assault and two of attempted sexual assault in and around campus since the fall semester started. As recently as Friday, Oct. 25, an SMU student reported being assaulted in the early morning hours by a Dallas taxicab driver. The woman told police the driver was taking her to her apartment in University Park from Dallas’ Uptown neighborhood.

On Friday, Sept. 27, the student body received a report by email of a woman being grabbed by an unknown man on Normandy Avenue, a street near campus. On Sept. 5, a student reported being assaulted by an acquaintance during the early morning hours in an SMU residence hall. Three days later, on Sept. 8, a student reported an attempted sexual assault near Ford Stadium.

The assaults have many students worried. SMU senior Mary Brennan Reich believes the administration should do more to keep students safe.

“Maybe they should put blue boxes along Hillcrest because I know a lot of students live along there and walk to and from campus or come home late at night,” she said.

Blue boxes are emergency call boxes that are placed around campus that give students who may feel unsafe a direct line to SMU police.

Lt. Enrique Jemmott, a member of the SMU PD’s Criminal Investigation, notes that campus police are stepping up their game in response to the recent crimes. In addition to adding more officers to patrol at night, campus police have also begun patrolling parts of University Park as well, in response to the assault on Normandy Ave., which is right across from campus.

Jemmott also said that University Park Police have started patrolling around campus more often. While he says that some police efforts to find those responsible for the assaults can’t be shared with the student body because of the ongoing investigations, he reassured students that campus police are not taking the recent crimes lightly.

Jemmot teaches the self-defense class for women on SMU’s campus. He believes the best way for students to protect themselves on campus is to take a proactive approach towards their safety. He urges students to save the SMU Police Department’s number in their phone contacts so they can easily call the police if they feel unsafe. The phone number is 214-768-3333.

He also advises that students use the SMU police phone number directly rather than 911 while on campus because the campus police can react faster and know the layout of campus better than the University Park police.

“Let’s say you get University Park police, and you tell them, ‘I’m at Dallas Hall’. They’re like, ‘Where’s Dallas Hall?” he said.

Taking steps to prepare oneself through self defense and not being afraid to report suspicious behavior are also very important for curbing crime on campus says Jemmott.

“SMU police offers a self-defense class for women. Taking one class is okay, but in the class you’re not under stress, you’re not afraid. We have to prepare you to handle stuff out there,” said Jemmott. “Don’t rationalize what people are doing, if you see something suspicious call it into the police. That’s really important.”

Dr. Donna Gober, a Director of Wellness at SMU and previous first aid and safety instructor for the American Red Cross is adamant that students educate themselves about how to stay safe and aware on campus. She recently spoke to a group of SMU sorority women about being aware of the risks on campus while also not living in constant fear of an attack.

“One of the things that the American Red Cross does is tell you to use your senses; to be aware that if you get a signal from any of your senses—something you see, smell, hear, feel—if any of those things seems off to you, you should be alert and aware because usually you can trust those senses. They’re telling you something’s not right.”

According to the SMU Police Department’s Activity and Crime Log, in 2010 there was one forcible sexual assault reported to the police. In 2011, two were reported, and in 2012, five were reported. According to the Daily Campus’ 2012 “Sweeping Rape Under the Rug” series, 100 students have been sexually assaulted in the last 25 years but only one case, that of Monika Korra, who was raped in Dallas in 2009, have been successfully prosecuted in criminal courts.

The SMU Police Department’s website provides tips for staying safe on campus, ranging from being aware of one’s surroundings to knowing your limits with alcohol. Services like “Giddy Up” provide safe rides for students from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily and the SMU PD also provides rides for students if Giddy Up is unavailable.

But some students want more to be done than just safety tips listed on a webpage.

“I was apprehensive when I was walking to my car on Normandy the other night,” said SMU senior Chloe Carabasi. “If the administration is taking measures to help stop this I think they should let the students know because it would make us feel better. You know, they should make it clear.”

Despite some student’s skepticism, Gober asserts that student safety will continue to be the administration’s number one priority.

“This is being taken very seriously and the safety of the students is paramount to anything else. It takes precedence over anything else that’s happening on campus,” she says.

In addition to Jemmott’s self defense class, Gober said that the university is reintroducing the self-defense class as a Wellness course not just because it has been popular in the past but also because it seemed prudent to bring it back in lieu of the recent crimes. She also notes that the administration is widening Cleary Act training, which had previously been targeted towards health and safety personnel, to include all faculties and departments across campus. The training helps faculty learn their responsibilities in reporting crime and supporting students who have fallen victim to crimes.

Personal Security Tips

Contact campus police at 214-768-3333 or 911 if you feel you are in danger

Be alert and aware of your surroundings at all times

Avoid jogging or walking alone, particularly after dark

Avoid shortcuts, deserted areas, poorly lit streets, alleys and pathways

Carry a whistle or noise maker – do not be afraid to scream if you need help

Avoid shortcuts, deserted areas, poorly lit streets, alleys and pathways

Use a help phone or raise the hood and stay in your car if it breaks down. If someone stops, ask them to call the police

Use campus escort services such as the Park ‘N Pony Giddy Up

Know your limits on dates and communicate them to your partner

Know your limits with alcohol and do not accept drinks from others

(Tips courtesy of SMU police)




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