By Lamia Choudhury
One in six female college students is the victim of attempted sexual assault. The College is no exemption to that statistic. Last semester, a string of attempted sexual assaults was carried out by a young man who introduced himself as “Brandon” to female students. Described by those who were harassed by him as somewhere between 5’9” and 6 feet tall and weighing roughly 200 pounds, he was much larger than the young women he preyed upon.
One of these women was Brooke Ferreira, a freshman on the Ammerman campus.
Ferreira can be described as small and blunt and unafraid to speak her mind. When she describes what happened to her, she doesn’t waste time on small details and gets straight to the point.
“It was around 6 at night in October and I was walking to my car in parking lot 8. This big guy came out of nowhere and asked if I wanted to hang out and for my number. I told him I had a boyfriend and was walking away at the same time. He didn’t follow me to my car or anything so I didn’t worry too much about it. Creepy guys are everywhere,” she said.
Ferreira wasn’t exactly troubled by the encounter. That is until Public Safety sent out an alert warning students about this Brandon character. “I went down to Public Safety and told them what happened after I saw that email,” Ferreira said.
Baycan Fideli, the Director of Public Safety at the Ammerman Campus, said Ferriera was one of three students who came forward after the alert was sent out.
“We had two reports before the alert”, he said, “Once we put the alert out, we got three more reports,” Fideli said.
When asked if he believes “Brandon” is a student here, Fideli answered, “I believe so. But sometimes they look like a student, quack like a student but, they’re not a student.”
Fideli said there was no pattern in these incidents. None of the women who reported what had happened to them had anything in common. Most of the reported incidents occurred near parking lot seven but one happened in front of the Lindsay Building. Four out of five of the incidents happened in the evening but one occurred in the afternoon.
Fideli stressed the importance of calling Public Safety when an incident like this occurs. Students can dial (631) 451-4242 on any campus for assistance. Although calling 911 is still an option, often times there is a delay in help as SCPD officers are not already on campus and may not know the layout of the school.
Jillian Weynand, a former Ammerman campus student who was also approached by “Brandon”, spoke of how the event changed things in her college experience.
“I’m more cautious about traveling my college campus now. I’m always with a buddy. I won’t get into my car without checking the back seat and make sure someone always knows where I am.”
Fideli also provided tips for students to avoid these kinds of incidents on campus. Walk in groups if possible and with a phone in hand in lighted areas. Never keep headphones on because Fideli said he believes they make students “completely oblivious” to what’s going on around them.
Blue phones exist on campus so students can call Public Safety. Just dialing 311 will alert them to where the student is and provides a direct line of communication.
Although there have not been more incidents like this reported after the alert was sent out, “Brandon” was never caught.