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(Dalton Runberg/The Collegian file photo)

Groping case highlights safety concerns

By Chueyee Yang and Razmik Cañas  

Fresno State’s safety text message alert system, Bulldog Alert, has not been informing students about the crimes that have been happening near campus, said Fresno State student Annabelle Lolinco.

When a safety alert about a groper was sent to students on Nov. 21, Lolinco received an email, but not a Bulldog Alert.  

“For something like this, I think it would be kind of important [to have Bulldog Alerts], especially when you’re like ‘Oh, OK, I do have to be careful.’ That way I can prepare myself,” Lolinco said. “I check my email probably constantly, but not many students do that.”

Fresno State communication and theater arts major Deandre Jean-Pierre, 23, was arrested on charges of sexual battery Friday night as an alleged suspect in the serial groping cases near Fresno State.

Maricela Tapia, nutrition food science major, said she was not aware of the serial groper because she has not been checking her emails. She said it would be more beneficial if students received Bulldog Alerts, as well.  

After being informed about the incidents, Tapia said, “It feels unsafe.”

“I feel worried especially for younger people because they are more likely the target, you know, so it’s scary that that’s happening,” Tapia said.

There have been six cases of females being groped recently near University Village and Plaza Apartments. Police believe four of six cases involve the same suspect.

“I feel safe around campus, just walking around campus, but I would never walk outside of the general campus on my own because I feel like the general surrounding areas aren’t the safest,” said Sarah Hayes, a psychology major.  

Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Executive Vice President Blake Zante addressed and invited his fellow officers and senators during last Wednesday’s ASI meeting to participate in Campus Safety Night Walk during dead days.

The goal is to walk around campus and see what areas need better resources to make sure that students are safe while walking to and from class at night.

Fresno State police department have emailed multiple public safety announcements this semester to both staff and students, giving them tips on how to avoid danger while being on campus at night.

“Park in well-lit areas. Lock your doors. Have your keys in your hand and ready when you reach your vehicle,” the Fresno State Police Department advises. “Do not leave items in plain view in your vehicle, put them in the trunk. Do not weigh yourself down with bags while shopping. Always be aware of your surroundings.”

Tapia and Hayes said when they stay on campus late, they both request to be escorted by the Fresno State Police Department when walking to their cars.

Tapia said she feels safe during the day when other students are on campus, but does not feel safe at night. She gets escorted by officers about four times a week.

“I started to ask for safety escorts,” Tapia said. “But I have definitely, for the last couple of months, especially when it gets dark, always call for a safety escort.”

Students, staff and faculty can call 559-278-8400 or locate an emergency phone to request a safety escort officer. If an escort officer is not available, then a police officer will provide the service.