By Elizabeth Sekkes
On March 6, two female Bridgewater State University students came forward and reported that they had each been sexually assaulted by men whom they personally knew. The incidents were not related, and the perpetrators were not the same person.
The first incident is known to have happened either on March 1 or 2. The second incident occurred sometime in October 2013. Bridgewater State Police informed the student body about the incidents via email on March 7.
In that email, it stated that it is estimated that one in every four or five college aged women across the nation will experience sexual assault in some form. Oftentimes, the perpetrators are people whom the assault victims personally know.
“I can confirm that the Bridgewater State University Police Department has received two sexual assault reports,” said Bridgewater State Police Chief Tillinghast. “Both reports were filed by students, and the perpetrators are also believed to be students. The victims chose not to reveal the identity of the perpetrators when they filed their reports.”
To avoid further incidents of sexual assault on the campus, the Bridgewater State Police Department urges students to keep common sense in mind when participating in recreational activities.
In the email sent out to students, the Bridgewater State Police Department encourages students to avoid alcohol and drugs as much as possible, as they have been strongly shown to impair personal judgment, which has been proven as a tactic for sexual assault perpetrators to utilize as a means to take advantage of their victim.
The Bridgewater State Police also stated for students to trust their gut instincts when they are in a position which they are uncomfortable with.
Bridgewater State Police also advised students to always have a trusted friend nearby when participating in recreational activities, and if students do engage in sexual activity, Bridgewater State Police strongly encourage students to ensure prior to the sexual act, that it has been mutually agreed upon.
“I want to stress that men as well as women should note these suggestions,” Tillinghast said. “Men should actively seek to minimize the likelihood that they will perpetrate sexual assault. Men can also be victims of sexual assault.”
Tillinghast also stressed the point that as devastating as a sexual assault is to the victims of such a circumstance, it is never the fault of the victim.
“… no inference should be drawn that, if someone if victimized, they have been careless,” Tillinghast said. “Sexual assault, when committed, is always the fault of the perpetrator and not the victim.”
While the sexual assault reports are certainly troubling, TIllinghast said the Bridgewater State Police Department works its hardest to ensure campus safety.
“I do believe, strongly, that our campus is safe,” Tillinghast said. “The University does a great deal to deter criminal incidents on campus, but, like society itself, the University is not insulated against crime. However, the University responds to reports of crime in a stringent and serious manner, in part to send the message that crime is not tolerated at BSU.”
Elizabeth Sekkes is The Comment’s News Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.