University programs to combat campus assaults

By Gus Bode

In response to recent university shootings across the nation, SIUC’s Department of Public Safety has implemented numerous programs and security measures to reduce campus assaults and ensure the campus community’s safety.

“At the very least, we can learn from unfortunate instances like those,” said Todd Sigler, director of the Department of Public Safety. “The best thing we can do to reduce assaults on campus is to educate the students on how to avoid and react in those situations.”

Sigler said SIUC has enacted education programs to inform students of available security services, procedures to follow in case of emergencies and preventative measures to follow to reduce assaults on campus.


He said surveillance cameras are now required for building infrastructures on campus.

Sigler said tragic shootings in the past five years at schools such as Virginia Polytechnic Institute, which claimed the lives of 32 students and faculty, and Northern Illinois University, in which 6 people were killed, created a need for awareness programs.

Assaults are more likely to occur in residential areas than on school grounds, but there are instances of assaults on campus, said Officer Russell Thomas, all hazards preparations prevention officer at the Campus Police Department

The most recent campus assault occurred between 3 and 3:15 a.m. May 8 in the breezeway of Faner Hall, where a 19-year-old student was walking from the 800 block of East Park Street, according to the Department of Public Safety website.

The website said the student reported being followed as she entered the breezeway and was then sexually assaulted. The area’s surveillance cameras captured the incident and the suspect fleeing to the Brush Towers area, the website said.

The victim’s identity has been withheld until police have more information and the whereabouts of the suspect.

“Never travel alone at night, always have a friend with you or travel in a group,” Thomas said. “We urge students to use the night safety transit … the Saluki Express, the brightway path and emergency phone boxes are all here for students to use and to increase safety.”


The Illinois code of conduct defines assault as “engaging in conduct which places another person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” Therefore, any act of violence against another person or intentional physical contact without consent is punishable under law.

“When incidents of assault come up, evidence and statements are gathered and then sent to the state legislature,” Sigler said. “The ultimate decision of prosecution is in their hands.”

Sigler said there is a Student Rights and Responsibilities Committee, formally known as Judicial Affairs, which also plays a part in the punishment of assault offenders.

He said SSRC imposes a student conduct code independent from that of the state legislature. This committee also launches its own investigation and devises punishments at the university level, Sigler said.

According to the DPS clergy act statistics, most incidents of assault are more likely to happen at night. Both Sigler and Thomas said they recommend students avoid being out late and suggest traveling in groups under well-lit areas.

Amanda Ermon, a sophomore from Chicago studying foreign language and international trade, said she is always with a group when she is on campus late at night. She said she is usually in the library or communications building during late hours doing projects and homework.

Ermon said she feels safe knowing the campus police are constantly on watch.

“I always see [Saluki Patrol] and the cop cars around campus,” Ermon said.

Thomas said there are 36 campus officers on the force, and officers are on patrol at all times. He said the goal is to provide a safe learning environment for students.

Aside from traveling in groups and using student services such as the night transit, Sigler said students can also use common sense to increase their safety.

“People should be able to come and go as they please, without having to worry about being a victim,” Sigler said. “To achieve this, responsibility needs to be taken up by authorities and students.”