Sexual assault stirs campus, increases police presence

SARA WEINREIS

sjweinreis09@ole.augie.edu

The campus seemed deserted shortly after midnight on August 4 as an unsuspecting, intoxicated female student walked past 33rd Street and Grange Avenue toward the Elmen Center parking lot.

While walking between the Elmen Center and Kirkeby-Over Stadium, a car filled with three to four men approached the drunken female. One of the men left the car, pushing her down and raping her in the grassy area by the stadium’s ticket booth.

Within minutes Campus Safety arrived on the scene, causing the man to flee toward the President’s House.

“This is one of the scariest types of sexual assault we can have,” head of Campus Safety Rick Tupper said. “In a situation like this, you have a completely unknown perpetrator and possibly other males who watched it happen.”

Campus Safety was alerted to the situation by an Elmen maintenance worker who had seen the female student “stumbling,” intoxicated and alone. Within what Tupper estimated to be a 90-second timespan afterward, the rape began.

“Crime is a thing of opportunity,” Tupper said.  “If you give a criminal the opportunity, the greater likelihood they’re going to take you up on it. Unfortunately in this situation at Augustana it lined up and our student was assaulted.”

Because of the assault, the campus has added new LED lampposts in certain dark spots on campus. One can now be found between Bergsaker Hall and the Gilbert Science Center.

Campus Safety added more night-patrolling officers who are working closely with the Sioux Falls Police Department (SFPD) in order to prevent another attack.

“What we are trying to do is make a connection with them [SFPD] so they get more of an understanding of the campus and of students,” Tupper said. He explained that the campus community should expect patrolling police cars every weekend.

“The police presence has fed a perception that students aren’t safe, but that perception is not reality,” Dean of Students Jim Bies said. “The police are patrolling the neighborhood because there have been car break-ins, drug busts and a dangerous amount of alcohol consumption. As the neighborhood sees change, the campus will have to as well.”

Both Tupper and Bies encouraged students with any questions to contact either of them.

“We make decisions for safety everyday on campus,” Bies said. “We are all important for safety—it is never just campus safety’s responsibility, but all of ours.”