By SARAH GRAMMER
University of Mary Washington students received disturbing information from the university that a fellow student had been abducted and sexually assaulted around 3 a.m. on Friday, March 13. It was not stated whether the student was male or female.
It is said that the student was approached by two white males in their early 20s near the intersection of William Street and Stafford Avenue. The men pushed the student into a dark colored vehicle containing two more men. The student was then driven to an area in Stafford County and sexually assaulted.
The Title IX coordinator did not receive word of the assault until March 17. Students across the UMW campus are shocked not only that an incident like this happened to one of their own but that incidents like this are still happening in the world at all.
“It was very alarming to hear about something so awful happening in our community,” said sophomore biology and intended theatre major Lauren Mort. “It’s terrible that this happens anywhere, but it’s easy to feel separated from it when it’s not impacting you.”
Senior biology major, Alexa Allen, was equally surprised to learn how near her the abduction took place. “I was shocked to hear that this happened only two and a half blocks from my house,” Allen said. “Walking home alone at night is something that I try to avoid, however it’s a shame to think that we live in a place where it is unsafe to do so.”
Another student and Fredericksburg resident, senior English major, Kaitlin Gates could not believe that this event took place in her community.
“I was completely shocked to discover something like that happened especially since I grew up in Fredericksburg,” Gates said. “Obviously no place is perfectly safe, but I never imagined that something horrible like that would happen here.”
Many students, like Gates, shared their concern for the victim and hopes that the victim is receiving the care that they need to live with what has happened to them.
“I immediately hoped that whoever was attacked was in a safe place now and getting any help they needed,” Gates said. Mort shares Gates’ hope that the victim is safe.
“I hope that the victim receives the help they need and that this incident is not taken lightly by other UMW students. It could have been any of us,” Mort said.
Hearing of an incident like this can change students’ feelings about safety on and near their campus. Many students feel as if they are still very safe on campus, even though this assault happened so nearby.
“I still feel very safe on campus, but it was definitely a reminder that it is better to walk with a group.” Mort said.
Other students state that the incident hasn’t changed their feelings about walking around campus at night especially since they always took precaution while walking alone or at night.
“If I find myself in a situation where I would have to walk alone at night I would be sure to take extra precautions such as stay on the phone with a friend until I got where I was going, but even then there is no guarantee of safety,” Allen said.
Gates shared a personal experience she had of being followed into a school parking lot by an unknown vehicle.
“Having experienced a situation where I was followed by another car into the Sunken lot, the safety bubble I used to have has already popped and I’m always thinking about cars who have followed me and people walking on the sidewalks at night,” Gates said. “With the news of this incident, I feel like there’s even more reason to not be out alone at night and to possibly think twice about going out.”
Despite their personal feelings of safety, students all seem to agree that being afraid to walk around campus alone is not something that should be happening. “No one should feel like some sort of prisoner,” Gates said.