Students concerned about safety following sexual assaults at Sac State

Three cases have occurred on campus this semester

Third-year+political+science+major+Lupita+Rios+sits+on-campus+on+Friday%2C+Oct.+14%2C+2022.+The+recent+incidents+of+sexual+assault+and+battery+over+the+past+month+have+made+Rios+hesitant+to+make+use+of+services+on+campus+that+she+has+in+the+past.

Justine Chahal

Third-year political science major Lupita Rios sits on-campus on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. The recent incidents of sexual assault and battery over the past month have made Rios hesitant to make use of services on campus that she has in the past.

Justine Chahal and Jacob Peterson

CONTENT WARNING: The following story features the mention of sexual assault.

With three incidents of sexual assault and battery against Sacramento State students over the last month,  students are concerned about their safety at the university. Under California law, sexual battery is a form of sexual assault involving touching intimate body parts without consent.

The first two incidents reported on Sep. 23 and Oct. 5, are believed to have been committed by the same person going by the name “Zayn” according to a campus-wide email sent to students on Oct. 6. The third incident took place on Oct. 8 near Eureka Hall and was originally reported by The State Hornet

Students did not receive an alert about the most recent incident. During a press conference on Oct. 11, Sac State Police Chief Chet Madison Jr. said the suspect had been released “pursuant to law” after receiving a misdemeanor citation for battery and being barred from campus. Madison added that campus police have a “very vague” description of Saturday’s suspect. 

I actually do not feel safe.”

— Neida Perezis

Fifth-year history major Jacob Sauber-Cavazos said students should have been better informed of incidents like these.

“It still should have [been reported] given he was released,” Sauber-Cavazos said. “If you’re already committing crimes, it’s not a big step to commit another crime of violating a restraining order.”

Fourth-year biology major Marcus Ochoa said that he believed the incident should have been reported sooner as well. 

“I think that’s pretty alarming, especially with how close it is,” Ochoa said. “I feel like every student has a right to know what’s going on.” 

In light of these sexual assault and battery cases, some students said they are concerned about  safety being on campus.  

Why are these people just walking around campus with no one watching?”

— Paige Richards

Third-year criminal justice major Neida Perezis currently enrolled in a night class and leaves campus when it is dark outside. 

“I actually do not feel safe,” Perez said. “I actually messaged a girl through Canvas if it was okay if I walked with her because I saw that we walked to the same place. It’s a little scary, especially in the garage parking.”

The story continues below the image. 

The most recent case of sexual battery took place near Eureka Hall on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. This marked the third case of sexual assault and battery over the last month. Two previous incidents took place on Sep. 23 and Oct. 5, 2022. (Jacob Peterson)

Perez wasn’t the only student concerned about staying on campus so late. For Lupita Rios, a third-year political science major, this concern has made her hesitant to use services she had utilized in the past.

“I had stopped going to The WELL and the library at really late hours,” Rios said. “I work a lot and I have class all day, so the only time for me to really focus is at night and the library really helps doing that, but I get kinda weary about going.”

Sac State provides resources for students at all hours in the case of an emergency, such as the blue light call boxes, which are located at various points across campus

Despite the number of blue lights on campus, not all of them are readily accessible. The blue lights sometimes go out of service, like the one on the walkway on Stadium Drive as recently as Oct. 12. The lights are tested once a year, according to Deputy Chief Christina Lofthouse. Madison gave conflicting information at the recent press conference, offering that they are checked routinely.

The story continues below the image. 

Sacramento State Police Chief Chet Madison Jr. held a press conference in front of the SSPD building to address the recent sexual assualts on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2022. Madison said the suspect in the Oct. 8 incident was released “pursuant to law” after receiving a misdemeanor citation for battery and being barred from campus. (Alyssa Branum)

 

Madison said campus police were also patrolling the university, but students like undeclared first-year Paige Richards said she doesn’t see them very often. She’s been approached by one suspicious character on campus who doesn’t appear to be a student, according to her. 

Madison expressed that increasing security might prevent unwanted advances like this.

“I don’t see any security or police walking around the past few weeks that I’ve been on campus,” said Richards. “There’s this guy on campus who’s come up to me multiple times trying to talk to me. He doesn’t have a backpack. Why are you just going up to random girls with no backpack on? Why are these people just walking around campus with no one watching?”

Third-year child education major Josette Hernandez said there should be an increase in security and student IDs should be used for security purposes more often.

“Having more people and extra security would help even during games,” Hernandez said. “Especially at night or when people have late classes.”

According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest Nation Network (RAINN), sexual assaults on college campuses reach their peak between the start of the fall semester and the beginning of Thanksgiving break. The organization calls this the “Red Zone.” 

“We’re paying so much money to come here,” Hernandez said. “That’s not fair that we don’t even want to go to our own class. I feel so bad because probably those students just want to come have fun and then this happens and they don’t want to come back here.”