By Stephanie Dawber and Kayla Lemay
News Editor and Editor-in-Chief
Bridgewater State University failed to notify students about two alleged rapes that occurred on campus. According to The Associated Press, the incidents occurred in the Kelly Gymnasium on Sept. 3, and in the Pope Residence Hall on Sept. 20.
According to campus officials, official notices to students are only sent out when a threat is thought to be ongoing, which they say was not the case in these two instances.
The official response from the university, sent as an email on Wednesday evening, said, “No institution of higher education is immune from the risk of sexual assault and relationship violence. It can and does happen at Bridgewater State University… In response to the criticism that Bridgewater State University did not send out a notice of two incidents of alleged sexual assault, it is important to understand that the University sends out timely warnings in compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law, for incidents which involve a continuing threat to the community.”
Bridgewater State University has experienced extensive media coverage regarding the stalled assault announcement. The Boston Globe, Enterprise News, The Patriot Ledger, Taunton Daily Gazette and Wicked Local have covered the incidents.
In its reporting on Wednesday, The Enterprise released information uncovered from records at the Brockton District Court. They identified the suspects in the September assaults as Denzel A. Jones, 20, of Roxbury, and Brandon M. Pike, 18, of Bridgewater, both of whom were released on bail the day of their arrests.
The suspect and victim knew each other in both accounts of the alleged rapes. Both male suspects were arraigned and pleaded innocent. In both instances, The Enterprise reported no one involved was a BSU student.
Bridgewater State University students expressed strong opinions. A senior female, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “To say this is not a ‘recurring issue’ is a false misconception from someone who could not possibly understand the countless number of times women have had to look over their shoulder before unlocking their car door or sped their step while walking through a darker part of any university, parking lot, gym, dorm, sidewalk, hallway, etc.”
Another sophomore female said, “Students should have definitely been notified of the rapes. So they could be on alert.”
One student started a petition on Change.org encouraging Bridgewater State University to reconsider its decision not to notify students of certain sexual assaults on campus. As of this printing it has been signed by 56 people.
Bryan Baldwin, Chief Security Officer at BSU, said of this petition, “ I applaud the students who have voiced their concern in this manner. Though the subject matter reflects a complex and difficult series of issues that will require considerable discussion in the days to come, the willingness of students to express themselves freely and appropriately is something Bridgewater State University, as an institution of higher learning, certainly tries to foster and encourage.”
BSU President Dana Mohler-Faria stated in the message Wednesday, “In the future, we will look to go beyond what is legally required if we determine it is in the best interest of our community.”
Stephanie Dawber is the News Editor, and you can follow her on Twitter @StephanieDawber. Kayla Lemay is the Editor-in-Chief, and you can follow her on Twitter @klemay123.