A recent incident that took place on campus makes some students wonder if Northern Kentucky University is a safe place.
“I’m in shock. I never thought anything like this would happen on NKU’s campus,” said Bo Oetjen, senior public relations student. “I’ve never felt threatened when walking alone at night on campus.”
According to police reports, on Feb. 15, a female student was walking to her car after leaving the Steely Library at about 9:45 p.m. The student proceeded to walk to her car in Lot I, when she heard footsteps behind her.
An unknown male grabbed her from behind, placing his right hand over her eyes and his left around her waist. The man pulled the student between two parked cars and tried to put his hand under her shirt. The student managed to punch the man in the face. The perpetrator let the student go, and she ran to her car and drove out of the parking lot.
“She did exactly what I would teach people to do in that situation—hit them in sensitive areas, run to safety and call the police,” said Chief of Police Jason Willis.
The student did not call police immediately; instead, she waited, until some friends told her that she needed to report the incident.
According to police reports, the victim stated that she did not think the man was trying to take her anywhere or hurt her. Instead, the victim stated that she thinks it might have been someone she knows or someone that thought they knew her.
Two days after the initial police report, the student contacted the police again and said that after having time to think about it she remembered that the man was “giggling softly and acting like he was playing a joke on someone he thought he knew.” She also reported, “the more I thought about it the more I realized that the subject did not try to put his hand under my shirt.”
The attack, originally classified as sexual abuse of the first degree, was downgraded to a harassment case.
“We still take the event very seriously. It is still a terrifying experience,” Willis said. “Once people calm down and go over the event in their mind, they remember what actually happened. By no means have we changed the way that we will handle this.”
Police are still looking for the attacker and report him as a white male, about six feet tall, thin and lean, clean-shaven and smelled of cigarette smoke.
“We would still like to speak with him,” Willis said. “Even if it was a case of mistaken identity, we can work with him to clear things up.”
Though the event was downgraded, it did little to ease students’ minds about the safety of campus.
“It’s scary. It’s very scary,” sophomore Claire Karris said. “I wish there was more security in the parking lots at night. I study on campus a lot at night, and wish I could see more security cars driving by patrolling the area.”
Though certain details about the attack are unknown, it makes many students realize that safety on campus is not guaranteed.
“This event is eye-opening no matter what exactly happened,” Oetjen said. “It tells you even the unexpected can happen on a campus like NKU.”
Police say that NKU is a very safe community, but that there are certain things that students need to do to keep themselves and others safe.
“Sometimes people get a false sense of security when they feel they are in a safe environment,” Willis said. “Students need to be aware of their surroundings, stay in well-lit areas and never hesitate to call the police.”
Story by Matthew Brewer