Attack causes concern

Between classes, exams and other daily activities, campus safety may be one of the last things on many students’ minds.                   The UVM Police issued a campus alert via email to notify students about a woman who was attacked on Sept. 24.  Though the woman was able to get away unharmed, it is important to take precautions for your own safety at all times, especially when walking at night, the alert stated.                   Students may know about a series of incidents last year involving a suspect who was touching women inappropriately while they were walking outside, according to the UVM Police website.                    This most recent incident had some students wondering whether or not it’s the same offender.                   “I think it’s probably somebody different,” first-year Kristen Wade said. “The alert didn’t scare me because the incident happened in a public place, but I know that you always have to be careful.”                   Though this attack didn’t happen on campus, the UVM Police said they want to raise awareness so students can stay safe.                   “We put information out safety-wise even when it’s not directly connected to the campus community,” Captain Tim Bilodeau said.  “One of the most important things to do is to be aware of your surroundings, particularly at night, and walk in well-lit areas.”                   Telling people where you are and when you’ll arrive at certain places can also help reduce the risk of crime, Bilodeau said.                   “I think programming numbers into your phone is a good idea,” Bilodeau said.  “Walking in pairs helps as well, but it comes down to personal safety.  Your friends and family can only do so much; it’s up to you to be aware and take the necessary precautions.”                   Another aspect of this issue is reporting crime, Bilodeau said. Participating in your own safety helps to make everyone safer.                   “We’ve been issuing campus alerts since about 1999 because of the Jeanne Clery Act,” Sergeant Dan Finnegan said.  “The [Act] has helped us to report instances in a safe and quick manner.”                   The Jeanne Clery Act was named in memory of Jeanne Clery, a woman who was raped and murdered in her dorm room in 1986, according to securityoncampus.org.   As a result of this act, colleges have to publish an annual report, crime statistics and provide access to timely information, the website said.                    “I think that it’s really good that they put campus safety alerts out,” professor Sarah Heiss said.  “They are beneficial for students and faculty.”                   Though this campus alert may raise awareness about safety concerns, Heiss said she still feels safe in general.                   “I don’t do anything after dark by myself,” Heiss said.  “I think it’s important for both men and women to be conscientious of their environment and to walk in groups.”                   Although the alert was directed at all students, some male and female students view safety differently.                   “I’m much less concerned than girls are,” first-year Chris Young said.  “I’m not going to alter my behavior in any way because I don’t think I was doing anything dangerous to begin with.”                   Many students said they still view Burlington as a safe environment.                   “I still feel like Burlington is safer than other towns,” first-year Katie Evans said.  “My friends and I travel in a pack anyway, so I’m not too concerned.”