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UMass re-examines security policies following alleged rape

Jeff Bernstein/Collegian

Following the alleged rape of a University of Massachusetts student within the residence halls, the University is redoubling efforts to ensure the dormitories are secure, according to University officials.

“The reported sexual assault that occurred in one of our residence halls on Oct. 13 reminds us that we must all be vigilant in our adherence to campus security procedures,” wrote UMass Police Chief John Horvath in an email yesterday to students who currently live in the residence halls.

The alleged victim was allegedly raped by four Pittsfield men, who are not UMass students. Three of the four students were signed into the residence hall by a stranger. The other student was not signed into the residence halls.

“Security protocol was not followed,” said UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski.

Students are responsible for any student they sign in to the residence halls and “must accompany them at all times,” according to the Student Code of Conduct.

As this rule was violated during the incident, officials are “redoubling efforts to educate students about the important role they play in their security,” Blaguszewski said.

“Right now, students are inviting strangers into their home,” he said. “That makes things dangerous.”

Within the next two weeks, Residence Life staff will be meeting with students in all of the residence halls to review the security protocol and expectations, Blaguszewski said.

In addition, residents will be reminded of the importance of locking their doors.

The 225 security monitors employed by the University, who are stationed in the lobbies of the residence halls starting at 8 p.m., will also receive a “review” of their training that will emphasize the importance of making sure people are signed in appropriately and that they are communicating with the UMPD.

In addition, police patrols have been increased around the residence halls for this weekend, Blaguszewski said.

In the near future, Residential Life and UMPD, along with other relevant offices, are expected to conduct a comprehensive review of security measures. The start time for the review has yet to be determined, Blaguszewski said.

“Given the severity of the incident, we need to use it as a chance to step back and say ‘what can we do better?’” Blaguszewski said.

While the policies will be under review, there will be no immediate changes.

“To a substantial degree, the policies have been successful,” Blaguszewski said. He noted that there are 440,000 unique visits each year within the dormitories.

Of the eight forcible rapes reported on campus in the last two years, seven of them occurred within the residence halls, according to the UMass Annual Security Report.

Blaguszewski also talked about the “big investment” UMass has made in security over the past few years, referring to the 786 security cameras installed throughout campus as well as the security personnel, card entrance to the dorms and escort service.

Katie Landeck can be reached at klandeck@student.umass.edu.

 

 

 

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