A 22-year-old female student was assaulted in front of Ritchie Coliseum Friday night by a man who was following her down Route 1, police said.
The man, described by police as a white man with a medium build, ran up to the girl and grabbed her shoulders, pulling her close to him. After she screamed, the man let go and ran away.
The victim was able to get a passing car to stop and drive her to the police station.
University Police spokeswoman Maj. Cathy Atwell said the police were concerned the attacker might strike again, adding a sense of urgency to the investigation because of its seriousness.
Atwell said a crime alert was put out to remind students to use other methods of traveling at night, citing programs such as the university’s escort service.
“The victim is not responsible, but it encourages people to use the precautions we have in place,” Atwell said.Students and staff members on the campus expressed concern about such incidents.
“I feel safer in D.C. than I do on this campus,” graduate student Jennifer Hains said. “Here at night there’s no one around, and it’s a little creepy. Maybe I’ll carry my bike lock with me … slug him over the head.”
Maribeth Mattingly, who has worked at the university for 30 years, said though she is saddened by the assault, she is not surprised.
“We’re just not part of the suburbs anymore,” Mattingly said from the steps outside the Reckord Armory, where she said she often works past dark. “As an individual, you have a little bit of control. You have to make smart decisions.”
The views of Mattingly and Hains reflect a common view that the campus is not safe at night.In a rough survey of students around the campus, Student Government Association President Emma Simson said she found a majority of students have fears of walking around the campus after the sun goes down.
“I think it’s a major problem on a college campus when they can’t walk around campus at night. It’s hurting the university to have these crime problems,” Simson said.
Simson said a possible solution would be for the university to work even harder with city and county officials to address the problem.
Contact reporter Owen Praskievicz at email@example.com.