Investigation Into Sexual Assault on U. Campus Ongoing, Students Urged to Stay Watchful
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One week ago, on March 26, the University of Utah campus was on alert following a reported sexual assault from the night before.
University of Utah police have not released a suspect description or made an arrest in the case.
A university spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing, while students are urged to stay watchful.
Five hours after that reported sexual assault, west of the Marriott Library, an alert went out to the campus community.
Federal law requires a campus alert when a serious or ongoing threat, such as a shooter or a sexual assailant, is a possibility.
The alert allows people on campus to take appropriate actions to protect themselves.
But, there has been no follow-up information about whether people on campus should remain on alert, or stand down.
“I thought about my immediate safety,” said Isabelle Wheadon, describing her reaction when she got that text alert about a sexual assault last week.
The university student was safe in her dorm room at the time, but the alert worried her and she wanted more information.
“I had no information about what was going on, or what actually happened,” she said.
She also remains alert and aware of her personal safety.
“I always make sure I have a friend with me, or I text my roommate as I am going home or going to class.”
Isaac Lee, a friend of Wheadon’s going back to high school, agrees. He said, in their group of friends, they look out for each other.
“If it’s late at night, people ask, ‘Do you have someone who is walking home with you? Or are you OK getting home tonight?'”
The university did post an online update Friday, pointing out that investigations like this take time.
“As important is transparency to campus is also protecting the privacy of the person who reported this crime. So, that’s the top priority for the police,” said Chris Nelson, a university spokesperson.
Right now, police are still investigating, working with the victim to gather leads and evidence.
“The University of Utah is a safe campus,” said Nelson. “Salt Lake City is a safe city. But, we are one and the same.”
The university is urging everyone to take the same precautions on campus that they would in Salt Lake City.
“I have a couple of night classes, and if I am walking alone to my car I would rather not. But, I walk with someone, or have pepper spray or something,” said Regan Crofts, a university student.
“I’ll usually have people to walk with, or even if I don’t, it’s not a constant fear that something bad is going to happen,” said Sara Leonard, a university student.
“Is campus safe? Absolutely,” said Nelson. “We have a good police presence. We have a security presence. We’ve made dramatic improvements over the last couple of years in terms of lighting. Can we be better? Yes, we’re always working to be better.”
The university says more students have been using the courtesy escorts and various counseling services since the murder of University student athlete Lauren McCluskey in the fall.
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