In the spring of 2007, Seattlepi.com published an article by Mary Lou Leary, the executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime, advocating the need to treat stalking as a serious crime. Leary reported that one in 12 women and one in 45 men will be stalked in their lives. In addition, of the female victims murdered by a partner, 76 percent were stalked the prior year to being murdered.
Stalking is becoming a serious threat on college campuses. For instance, on April 2nd, Rebecca Griego was murdered in her University of Washington office by her ex-boyfriend, James Rowan. Prior to Griego’s murder, she had moved out of the apartment she shared with Rowan, ignored his calls, reported his death threats to the university police, notified her friends and colleagues, widely distributed photos and descriptions of Rowan, changed her phone number, and sought a protection order. So, could more have been done by the campus to ensure the safety of their students and employees?
Yes, university police are trained to protect victims from acts of crime, such as stalking. There are procedures that need to be enforced, such as, a combination of communication between campus security and other local law enforcement agencies. In the case of this spring’s mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman, was questioned in November and December 2005 after two female students reported that he had been stalking them on campus. Christian Lilick, told USA Today that she had told a supervisor of repeated, distressing phone calls made by Cho.
After the events at Virginia Tech and the murder of Rebecca Griego at the University of Washington, I hope to see more campuses establish and enforce programs involving emergency response training, campus security escort services, and crime prevention committees. As a college student there are times on campus that I don’t feel safe. Do I know that if I were ever threatened, by a stalker or anyone else that I would be immediately protected? No, I have only heard about the precautions that one needs to take on orientation day for a brief ten minutes.
I suggest that many precautions need to be taken to prevent violent crimes from occurring at campuses. Since some campuses are small, more effort from other students and staff need to be taken to help make stalking and other crimes widely known to law enforcement agencies as well as community residents. There are also various resources, such as the Sexual and Domestic Violence Services, that can be found on the Internet. Maybe when these precautions are enforced students and employees will feel protected from violent threats on school campuses. I know I would.