Sexual assaults, aggravated batteries, mob action occur during “red zone”

By Elyssa Kaufman

A spike in sexual assaults in October sparked concern and questions on campus this semester.

On the weekend of Oct. 10, two sexual assaults occurred at 309 E. Green St. and four aggravated batteries occurred on campus. From these incidents, University members received crime alerts from the University Police Department, which drew attention to crime on campus. The Champaign Police Department also announced 12 incidents of mob action and robberies occurring near campus, in a press release Oct. 20.

Champaign Chief of Police Anthony Cobb said the crime that weekend was very uncommon, but added that there is a typical spike in crime every fall. However, Cobb said the two sexual assaults on Green Street were particularly rare because most assaults on campus are date rape sexual assaults, rather than strangers approaching an individual.

According to Skip Frost, deputy chief of the University Police Department, sexual assault is the crime that goes most unreported on campus.  

“We believe that our efforts by education through the RAD, or Rape Aggression Defense, program and other outreach programs have convinced people that they need to come forward and report these incidents,” Frost said. 

The Champaign Police Department and the University Police Department increased police presence in the locations where the assaults took place and encouraged students to refrain from walking alone and to report crimes or suspicious behavior. The departments also deployed undercover cops in response to the spike in crime in October and increased the number of police officers on campus to ensure safety.

Looking back on the first semester to now Frost said there is less crime occurring. 

“With more people out there are more opportunities for crimes to occur. After fall break there have not been as many incidents as before break,” Frost said. 

Frost said the reason the police see less crime on campus out of the “red zone,” the time in between the start of school and Thanksgiving break when most crime on campus occurs, is because as the weather gets colder, fewer people are out. Also, after break students have been on campus a couple of months and are more aware of their surrounding and of campus.

However, Frost warned that just because the police are not sending out crime alerts as regularly does not mean students should be any less aware. Even outside of the red zone students need to be cautious and follow the same safety tips as previously advised. 

“This is a safe campus, not a crime free campus, and crimes can and do occur. People need to be aware when walking on campus,” Frost said. 

Elyssa can be reached at [email protected]