String of sexual assaults committed across campus
By Annika Jensen, Contributing Writer
A suspect accused of at least four cases of sexual assault against Gettysburg College students is being held in custody as of Thursday, Sept. 11, according to Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Bill Lafferty. An investigation is being conducted by the Gettysburg Borough Police and the Department of Public Safety concerning the assault incidents. The alleged perpetrator is described as a Caucasian male juvenile, though his identity has not been released.
The incidents occurred between Sept. 8 and Sept. 10, around North Washington Street and Constitution Avenue, after which the suspect was reported running in the direction of 7-11. Three of the four attacks were com- mitted at night, while the last occurred during the afternoon.
Following each incident, students received email alerts describing the nature of the assault, and the appearance of the perpetrator. These emails also informed students that DPS would be increasing the number of officers stationed in the area, and provided suggestions for campus safety.
The number of incidents, as well as the way they have been dealt with, has prompted students to push for social change. #NotAJoke has been trending on social media outlets such as Twitter, Yik Yak, and Instagram, and the American Association of University Women held a Day of Awareness on Monday, Sept. 15, where students were encouraged to wear black as a sign of understanding and intolerance of sexual assault.
Cait Goodlett and Mollie Sherman, both sophomores and members of the American Association of University Women, were running a table in the CUB to promote the event.
“It’s something we should raise awareness for, so we can make some changes,” Sherman, a victim of the recent assaults, says. “My friends started the hashtag after my incident. It’s not a joke, it’s actually very serious.”
Goodlett concurred, saying, “We need to do more.” She and Sherman are working on creating a panel discussion with the Association of University Women about sexual assault at Gettysburg. “We have had incidents in the past, but nothing like last week. People thought it was a joke.”
Sherman spoke about the controversial use of the word “fondling” on DPS’ reports: “It’s just a funny term, and is not used in the correct way.”
Students found the word to detract from the gravity of the incidents. “People need to put a face to the issue for it not to be a joke, and it’s not being taken seriously enough.”
Other than encouraging students to wear black, Goodlett and Sherman were handing out stickers and teal ribbons to help spread awareness, and giving information to those who walked past them in the CUB.
“In an ideal society,” Sherman continues, “this wouldn’t happen in the first place. It should be an eye opener for us.”