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Assaults spark fear among Texas State students

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Photo by: Daryl Ontiveros | Staff Photographer

Members of the Texas State community have been victims of various assaults on campus this year which has increased fear and insecurity among students.

Since the beginning of 2016, there have been 27 assaults on campus ranging from homophobic to sexual to even clown related incidents. Though the number has decreased since 2015, which had a total of 45 assaults, students are still feeling uneasy.

Carlos Javier Rodriguez, theater junior, said he does not feel safe on campus or in San Marcos.

“I’m really disappointed in what’s been happening at Texas State,” Rodriguez said. “I fear every day that I will get assaulted or hit. I don’t want to live in that kind of fear. I don’t think that anyone would.”

Rodriguez identifies as gay and Hispanic. With these two traits combined, Rodriguez said it was his parents’ worst fear for him to be a victim of assaults when he entered college. After recently learning of a male Texas State student who was attacked upon leaving the LGBTQIA bar, Stonewall Warehouse, in high heels, Rodriguez said the situation is unfair.

“In a country where we literally say, ‘home of the brave, land of the free,’ how free can we be when we are scared to step out of our own home,” Rodriguez said.

Some students have become anxious due to the recent election of President-elect Donald Trump. To address the safety of students from diverse backgrounds on campus, President Denise Trauth sent an email to the student body Nov. 28, stating that she holds tight to the “core mission and values” of the university and prohibits any acts of violence and unequal treatment.

“I want to reassure all that we have taken, and will continue to take steps that allow us to maintain an academically vital, safe, and sacred space that promotes civility, dialogue, discussion, debate, and the free and unfettered exchange of ideas, opinions thoughts and theories,” Trauth said.

While some assaults have been due to sexual discrimination, Texas State students have also faced the threat of clowns. In October, Bobcat Village was plagued by a person in a clown costume who assaulted a female resident.

Breanna Deculus, management freshman, lives at Bobcat Village and said she finds the situation crazy.

“I’m a freshman, and I’m scared to live on campus,” Deculus said. “It doesn’t feel comfortable that we are paying to live on campus. If there are people able to assault someone in student housing, where’s the University Police (Department)? I’m going to be moving off campus where there is better security.”

Rolando Belmares, University Police Department sergeant, said UPD take every report of assault very seriously. The UPD is working to increase its visibility and have recently hired extra officers in order to patrol more places at the same time.

Belmares said that there are many programs and initiatives the UPD has set in place to give students a better sense of security such as Bobcat Bobbies, a safety escort service, and Krav Maga, a free self-defense class. Additionally, Belmares said that the UPD advertises to stay in well-lit areas and walk in pairs.

Trauth said university officials are taking measures to decrease harmful and threatening situations on campus with enhanced police patrol, providing safety tools and resources in times of need and continuing conversation of concerns through public forums.

Rodriguez said his best piece of advice for Texas State students, the LGBTQIA community and young women, is to ‘be brave,’ in the wake of these attacks.

“There are certain things that are out of my hands, but there are some things that I can take control over, and it’s about picking your battles,” Rodriguez said. “At the end of the day, we are going to make it through this war. It’s just so important to remember.”

Trauth reminds students with a hopeful endeavor that she will strive to protect and represent the voices of the Texas State community.