Feminist Alliance works to make students feel safer in wake of Bay Shore predator break-ins
In response to the serial attacks that have been happening to residents of the Bay Shore Road area, the Feminist Alliance is going forth with plans to launch a “multi-prong” campaign to help students on campus feel more protected in light of such alarming crimes.
The club, headed by thesis students Joohyun Kim and Aria Alamalhodaei, is taking necessary precautions to help quell feelings of vulnerability that may have arisen with the knowledge that a predator is in the area. One of the first actions that the Feminist Alliance took was to modify the posters around campus to include that the crimes committed were of a sexual nature. According to Kim, the reason why such details weren’t included in the first place was because the consequences for burglary are more severe than the penalty for rape.
“We found that insufficient because not bringing the sexual nature of the incident to light is to ignore that there are specific targets — and that the targets are female-bodied students,” Kim said. “It’s unacceptable. It’s just continuing evidence of the ignorance of women’s experiences on campus, so we just wanted to increase visibility.”
For first-year Katherine Mullin, regardless of the information given on the posters, she said that given the sketching, she would not at all be able to identify the perpetrator if she encountered him in her daily walks of life.
“If [the perpetrator was] acting weird, I would tell somebody, but if they weren’t acting weird and were just standing [on campus] based on that sketchy facial reconstruction, I wouldn’t say anything,” Mullin said. “I would be like, ‘There are so many people that look like the face they’ve got up there.’ It’s kind of useless. I mean, it’s helpful to warn people what’s going on, but the facial sketch or whatever … I don’t think it’s terribly useful.”
Last week, the Feminist Alliance approached the Student Allocations Committee to request 200 canisters of pepper spray to be distributed at a workshop that, at press time, was not officially announced. The request was approved with evidence from a survey on the Student Forum that 90 percent of the 200-plus students sampled would be willing to partake in a self-defense instruction that would allow them to be trained in the proper usage of the weapon. Self-defense courses are also being continuously offered by alum Mark Wilco (’03) to lower “the statistical probability of getting raped” and give students confidence in being able to handle themselves in threatening situations. Kim also mentioned that a member of the Feminist Alliance was currently working on an article to be released to the Forum discussing topics of institutional blindness towards sexual assault and rape culture. The article has not yet made its public debut.
Something else that the Feminist Alliance has been working on is the implementation of a Rideshare program. By having people sign up for certain time slots during the day or night, the program will allow for students who normally walk to places close to campus to be driven by one of their peers, reducing the odds of being attacked while walking by themselves. The Campus Police have also developed a Rideshare program that has a similar concept in mind, but the Feminist Alliance wanted to specifically create a system where students could rely on other students.
“If, for some reason, I didn’t have a car, I might do that if I couldn’t get anyone to walk with me,” first-year Jenny Wheeler said. “I feel like it’s good that as a community we’re making people aware of [the predator]… so we can be safer.”
“[The action the Feminist Alliance has taken] is something that is a long time coming and maybe should have been done at the beginning of the year,” Kim reflected. “But I think there’s a lot of feelings of vulnerability and there’s a feeling of just being scared in general that have motivated [the Feminist Alliance] to take the steps to provide students with resources that they might not look out for on their own or might not know exist. There are multiple tiers on which this problem can be addressed and this is really doing the bare minimum trying to empower students.”