Safety forefront amidst social media allegations

BY Kyley Wilhite/Associate Producer

On Thursday, Jan. 21 at 1:29 p.m., all Tarleton State University students were sent a “safety warning” email from Assistant Chief of Police Mark Hukel. In the email, students were advised about the recent rape allegations on campus.

“On January 19, 2022, the Tarleton University Police Department became aware of an anonymous social media posting reporting several sexual assaults that have occurred in the Hunewell Residential Hall,” Hukel said. “At this time, the Tarleton Police Department has not received any calls or reports of anyone being assaulted. If you or anyone you know is aware of or has been a victim, please contact the police department immediately.”

Tarleton University Police Chief Matt Welch commented on reporting sexual assaults to the police department.

“The sexual assaults have reported to UPD have been allegedly committed by an acquaintance or friend. Should any sexual assaults be reported to UPD, a notification would be issued,” said Welch.

However, Hunewell Hall resident Sha’Landra Epps learned about the allegations in class. 

When asked about new safety precautions, Epps said, “We did get new locks on our doors, but they only lock from the inside. You can still run into your dorm if someone is chasing you, but the actual locks aren’t much help because they don’t lock behind you.”

The police advise safety precautions that students can take upon themselves. 

“There are several ways for women (and men) to keep themselves safe on our campus. Take a friend with you and have an exit plan when you want to go out,” said Welch.

Former Hunewell resident Sephreana Hattenbach reported having good experiences in the dorm. 

“I never really felt unsafe living there. In fact, I hung out with several of the boys there, and they were all really kind and sweet,” Hattenbach said.

Tarleton had a total of six reported rape cases in 2021 according to the College Tuition Compare Site (CTC). 

“Often good things can come from bad. The bad in this instance are rumors and unsustained claims from anonymous sources on social media bringing concern. The good is that it brings awareness so our students can be more proactive in staying safe,” Welch said.

However, Tarleton has an anonymous reporting site and special reporting procedures on the 2021 Annual Security Report and Annual Fire Safety Report.

The Tarleton Police are offering Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) classes again during the spring semester. The first class session is on Feb. 21 at 6 p.m. To register for these classes, email police@tarleton.edu.

When asked about the self-defense class, Epps said, “I took self-defense classes during the fall semester, and I feel like that information/movements were very helpful, and I feel confident I could use them during real-life situations.”

According to Welch, the university police have other resources that could be useful to students. 

“TSU Police Department also has a limited number of rape drug detection cards. With these cards you can put a couple of drops on your drink and it will indicate the presence of date rape drugs. We also offer free key chain whistles as well as laptop covers,” Welch said. 

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