After the first two stranger rapes in twelve years were reported at Harvard in the span of five days, some undergraduate student leaders are calling for the University to consider tightening its security policies and providing more safety measures for students.
The first reported incident, which occurred early in the morning on Aug. 10 in Harvard Yard, was followed by a second incident late in the evening on Aug. 14 near the intersection of Oxford and Kirkland streets. The two women who reported the rapes are not Harvard affiliates, and provided differing descriptions of their attackers, Harvard University Police Department spokesperson Steven G. Catalano said.
HUPD is currently investigating both cases, and has increased its security presence around campus, but some student leaders said they think additional changes should be considered in response to the reported attacks.
Undergraduate Council president Danny P. Bicknell ’13 called the incidents “very unsettling,” and said he would like to see University officials consider extending service hours for the shuttle, the evening van, and the Harvard University Campus Escort Program.
Currently, the shuttle operates from 5:45 a.m. to 4 a.m. on weekdays and from 7:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. on weekends. During the academic year, students can receive a ride from the evening van service until 3 a.m., while HUCEP provides walking escorts to students until 2 a.m. from Sunday to Wednesday, and until 3 a.m. from Thursday to Saturday.
Bicknell also said he hopes University officials will evaluate whether more lighting or emergency blue light call boxes need to be installed around campus, and whether the police presence in Cambridge needs to be increased.
“These issues are definitely going to have to be re-examined to make sure that security is always the top priority and that there are no lapses in current security measures,” Bicknell said.
Amanda I. Morejon ’13—co-director of Response, a group that offers peer counseling about sexual assault and other issues—also advocated changes to evening shuttle services.
Morejon, who said she has often walked back to the Quad from the stadium after midnight due to what she described as the infrequency or unreliability of University transportation options late at night, called for the route and hours of the shuttle service to be extended.
Nicholas Oo ’13, a Leverett House representative on the Undergraduate Council, suggested requesting the shutdown of Harvard Yard in an email sent to the UC list on Friday.
In an emailed statement to The Crimson, Oo wrote that he was primarily concerned by “how close in time the incidents occurred and how ready the police department will be in handling our security.”
Student leaders also called for changes in the frequency and tone of communications about rape at Harvard.
Abby P. Sun ’13, a former president of the Radcliffe Union of Students, said she would like to see HUPD follow up on its initial community advisory emails with messages to update students on the progress of its investigation into these and other reported crimes.
Morejon said she believes safety programs such as the escort service are currently stigmatized at Harvard, and would like to see them become more widely discussed and utilized.
“It needs to be fully normal and fully okay for me to say, ‘I'm scared and need someone to walk with me,’” Morejon said.
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