Two student groups at the University of Maryland College Park campus are asking the school administration to increase security following three rapes on and near the campus this year, and a women's group is planning a rally next week.
The latest rape occurred on campus Nov. 7 when a 20-year-old student was attacked in a basement restroom of the Benjamin building, according to public information director Roz Heibert.
In September, a 21-year-old student was attacked near the campus while walking home from a party, and in August, a 36-year-old Greenbelt woman was raped on the border of the campus after being abducted in her car near the campus, Heibert said. There also were two attempted rapes on campus this year, in March and July, she said. Campus police said they do not believe the attacks are related.
In reaction to the attacks, the University Women's Center has planned a march and rally for Tuesday called "Take Back the Night," to increase awareness about sexual assaults and attract the university administration's attention.
Members of the University Commuters Association and the Student Government Association submitted a plan to the administration early last month for a student foot patrol to cover the campus at night. Mark Lipton, president of the University Commuters Association, said a meeting is planned this month with a university official to discuss the plan.
"This is a bigger campus than people realize," said Lipton, 21. "There are a lot of places where police can't get to in their cars that people can get to on foot. Getting out of the car cuts the response time." About 38,000 students attend classes on the 1,315-acre campus and 8,000 live in campus dormitories.
Although the university police said there are as many as 18 officers on foot patrol 24 hours a day, Lipton, 21, said there is a need for student patrols.
Lipton said he is working with the campus police on the proposal, which would hire about 15 students as an extension of the police department and arm them with police radios. The students would travel in pairs.
Heibert said that in 1983, when there were two rapes and three attempted rapes on campus, the university provided emergency funding during the spring semester for student foot patrols. However, she said, the patrols were not continued the following semester. In 1982, there were three rapes and six attempted rapes reported on campus, she said.
"Students have come to us asking about [increasing security]," Lipton said. "I think students on campus are scared. This last rape hit close to home. I know I wouldn't want my girlfriend walking alone on campus at night and I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels this way."