“There’s not a serial rapist on campus…”-Police chief shuts down rumors about rapes on campus
Makenzie Plusnick– Editor-in-Chief
On Wednesday Nov. 13, at 9:23 p.m., a Tarleton student with the user handle @ryleeskyee said in a since-deleted tweet, “For my Tarleton girls: there was ANOTHER rape today in Heritage, the fourth one this year by the same guy. PLEASE by careful, and don’t let anyone into your building if you aren’t positive they belong there! [sic]”
In a follow-up tweet, she said, “He has been described as 6’3”, Hispanic, and looks to be about 27-28.”
This description matches the one sent out about a suspect in a possible rape on campus on Nov. 4, which reads “The suspect is described as a White or Hispanic male approximately 6’3” tall, wearing a grey shirt and jeans. Additionally, the suspect was also described as being too old to be a traditional student.”
Kyra Coffell, a residential leader on campus, replied to another tweet by a different user, saying, “Hello, I am an RL for heritage I have commented on a post prior to this. I love we are looking out for each other, but this post is false and was asked to be taken down it is scaring many people for a false alarm [sic]. However, we do have an officer posted for precautions.”
Coffell continued in another tweet, “I only wish to spread the truth about this rumor so more people do not freak out. I encourage you to report any suspicious behavior in the future. But in this instance please spread the truth to ease people’s nerves. Thank you and be safe.”
Cecilia Jacobs, assistant vice president for marketing & communications, said there has only been one reported rape.
“There was an email sent out… on Nov. 4, and that has been the only report,” Jacobs said. “That is the only report, as far as I am aware, that we have received.”
Police Chief Matt Welch confirmed that there have been no other reports.
“There were multiple tweets last night, some Snapchat stuff going around, and it’s just not true,” Welch said. “Now, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened; it just means no one has reported it to the university, either through us or through the Title IX office. We’ve double and triple checked, no one has reported it.”
Tarleton Police are required to alert students about reports of sexual assault on campus by the Clery Act, which they do through email and posters around campus, like the ones that went out about the incident on Nov. 4.
“Had there been four sexual assaults like the tweets claim, there would have been four notices put up,” Welch said.
Welch encourages students who are concerned about instances like these to reach out and ask.
“First of all, if you have a concern talk to your RL (residential leader), talk to your housing director, talk to the police department. Don’t just take it on face value that what someone said is gospel,” he said.
Tarleton PD is making changes to help keep campus safe. Last night, residence halls on campus began deactivating swipe-access entry to all doors except the main ones from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“It makes everyone go through the lobby area… It’s just a little bit of a safer environment to do that,” Welch said. “I think it’s going to be safer in the long run.”
Welch also warns students about ‘tailgating’- when a person follows another person into a building without using their own ID card- and about propping doors open.
There will also be more officers patrolling residence halls in the evening.
To help ease student’s concerns, Welch met with students Thursday night in Heritage Residence Hall, where the rumors about rape began, to discuss their concerns and ways to stay safe.
“There’s not a serial rapist on campus,” Welch said.