Section: News

Assault alert triggers concern

An unknown individual allegedly sexually assaulted a resident of Mather Residence Hall in her room Saturday between 8:00 and 8:45 p.m., according to an email sent to the student body at 1:52 a.m. on Sunday. The College sent the email, along with a call and text message, as a timely warning that there was a threat to the campus community in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Act, which mandates that the College must determine if an incident warrants an emergency notification. The Clery Act requires that colleges inform their students about certain crimes on or near their campuses.

The College issued the warning because the identity of the suspect is unknown, according to Andrea Goldblum, Title IX and civil rights coordinator. “Because [that unknown person] entered a room uninvited, there is concern that that was a risk to the community. And that therefore we wanted the community to know so that they could take efforts to keep themselves and each other safe,” Goldblum said.

Goldblum responded to the report at around 11 p.m. on April 31. She met with the complainant and spoke with her about the resources available to her and explained Kenyon’s process for dealing with sexual assault. The College searched for facts to determine whether or not there was a risk to the community, and found the alleged assailant was unknown and therefore the College could not take immediate action. After that, the alert was issued.

Although the College has received tips, the alleged assailant is still at large, Goldblum said. He is described in the email as six feet tall, thin and blond. At the time of the assault, he was wearing a navy v-neck, khaki pants and New Balance sneakers. Goldblum encourages anyone, especially those who may have seen someone matching that description, to come forward.

The administration has considered the possibility that a student let the alleged assailant into the building and is discussing ways to heighten security measures, such as increasing education about door-locking, or automatically locking room doors and K-Cards that only swipe into the student’s residence, according to Goldblum.

“Our culture is a very open one so although we encourage people to lock their doors, and residence life staff encourage people to lock their doors, a lot of people don’t,” Goldblum said.

Goldblum also said the investigation is being handled by the College at this point, instead of the Knox County Sheriff’s department, due to the students wish to not proceed with a criminal investigation. She said the student made the decision on the night of the assault.

Mather resident Brady Furlich ’19 got the alert  early Sunday morning. The incident didn’t concern her much until she returned home and noticed Community Advisors (CAs) were making rounds to check that resident’s room doors were locked.

Later, she and the rest of her hallmates received an email from Head CA of Mather Sterling Nelson ’16 informing students that there was no immediate danger, reminding them of the emotional support services available and to lock their doors.

At no point did Furlich say she felt unsafe, though she was not alone at all during the night.

Although she doesn’t feel the atmosphere in Mather has changed, Furlich and her roommate have started locking their door at night.

Jessica Kotnour ’19, also a Mather resident, received the alert when she woke up in the middle of the night.

She said she felt scared because she had been walking back to Mather from the first-year quad around the time of the assault, and felt it could have easily been she who was assaulted. Kotnour said she has not changed her behavior but is more conscious of her surroundings. She said she has always taken safety precautions, such as walking with someone else.

“Just because we are at Kenyon and up on this Hill doesn’t mean we are immune to everything,” Kotnour said.

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