OH - Safety concerns sweep campus
OXFORD, Ohio -- A recent rash of violent crime reports near Miami University has heightened concerns and caused fear among students.
Some students say the crime reports motivated them to lock their doors and take safety precautions. Others contend students around campus are careless and these incidents won't change their behavior.
The first day of spring classes brought news that a 21-year-old female student was raped and robbed in her off-campus residence by a male intruder wearing a mask and carrying a gun, police said.
That was followed by news of two attempted robberies at other off-campus residences and the kidnapping of a freshman student who was walking home.
The freshman was dumped last Friday morning in Union County. One of the three suspects arrested in that case is from Richmond.
"Apparently, it was a random crime of opportunity," said Sgt. Jim Squance of the Oxford Police Department, on the kidnapping.
Ryan Coli, 19, was kidnapped, beaten and robbed by at least two people who offered him a ride back to his dorm building in their van. He was dumped in Union County, Ind. and had to be treated at the hospital, police said.
"I actually can't picture it happening here," said Miami freshman Matt Shirey.
Many students said much of the fear arises from the fact that it could have happened to them.
"I've never locked a door in Oxford in four years," senior Jesse Filipec said about the robberies. "We just started locking our doors second semester senior year."
In both of the off-campus intrusions, the suspect gained entry to the home through an unlocked door.
Most students say they are now locking all doors and using more caution about walking alone at night.
Emily Wolin, a resident adviser in a first-year residence hall, said she has become more aware and vigilant about asking her residents where they are going and who they are walking with.
The Oxford and Miami police departments have been encouraging student safety by posting tips online and visiting residence halls.
Overall students said they have been impressed by the police presence following these events.
"I'm encouraged by how quickly the police have worked on it," said junior Sarah McQuade. She said rumors surrounding the incidents have been plentiful but the police and university have done a good job of keeping students updated with the correct information.
University Communications has issued four crime alerts that were distributed via e-mail to all students. The most recent, issued Sunday, informed students that three suspects in the kidnapping incident had been arrested.
Students said they are reassured by increased police presence around Oxford. They are using greater caution by not walking alone and are staying aware of their surroundings. However, some wondered how long it will be before students revert to carelessness.
"People will stay vigilant for a while," said Filipec, but he said once things calm down students will return to their old ways.
"No one is really that cautious," said freshman Tyler Miller, who lives in the same hall as kidnapping victim Ryan Coli. He did say the week's events have caused him to look over his shoulder a bit more.
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