Students concerned about safety following campus crimes

By Daily Illini Staff Report

When Jessica Ayala, now a 21-year-old senior in LAS, arrived at the University as a freshman, she always felt safe walking around campus. Then several assaults near her residence occurred.

“Little things like that can chip away at your sense of security,” Ayala said.

Sunday’s sexual assault has not been linked by University or Champaign police to an attempted attack and another stemming from a break-in that have occurred in the last month. The ties for some students are there anyway when it comes to staying safe on campus.

Scarlett Herring, a 23-year-old graduate student, said she doesn’t feel less safe yet, but she has taken extra precautions when returning to her off-campus apartment.

“I’m more aware of campus safety now because I keep seeing things about it, but we try to be pretty safe when we’re walking around,” she said. “Going from (the) Undergrad, especially being a female, I’m always aware of people around me, especially if you’re walking late at night or by myself.”

Police have recommended walking with friends, sticking to well-lit areas and avoiding distractions including cell phones or personal music devices.

Duane Edwards, owner of Illini Taxi, said he has not seen any increase in business since the recent crimes, though SafeRides through the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District and SafeWalks through the University are not offered during the summer.

Kyle Bergan, a 24-year-old University alumnus who still lives in the area, said he appreciates being informed about such crimes as they occur, even as a man.

“I know for sexual assaults, men aren’t as at risk as women, but for actual assault, they are more at risk,” he said. “Knowing that it’s happened and knowing to be on the look out for something, not just me being victimized, but someone else being victimized as well (is helpful).”

Brett Miller, a 24-year-old graduate student, said he would appreciate more information from police on risky campus areas.

“Regardless of whether or not people are being apprehended, I think it’s their job to let the community know what is going on where,” he said.

Herring added she focuses more on when arrests are made.

“I think it would be useful it you would be able to hear that or not,” she said. That would alter my opinion, if I knew if there hadn’t been any arrests.”

Daniel Johnson and Kate Szyszka contributed to this report