After three reported sexual assaults promoted two public safety notices over the weekend, some students living in a South Campus residence hall where one of the incidents occurred said they still feel safe.
The most recent notice was issued after two sexual assaults were reported off-campus in separate incidents.
A female student reported being assaulted to Ohio State Police on Sunday. She said she had been sexually assaulted around East 12th Avenue and North Pearl Street on Saturday night at about 10 p.m.
She described the suspects as two white men, ages 18-20, standing at about 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing between 200-250 pounds, according to the notice. She also said they were wearing dark shorts and tennis shoes.
In a separate incident, a woman not affiliated with the university reported a possible sexual assault to University Police at about 8:21 p.m. Saturday in the area of East 15th Avenue and North Pearl Street. The suspect was described as a white man, the notice said.
“While these incidents occurred off-campus, they are similar enough in nature that they could present an ongoing threat,” the notice said.
The Columbus Division of Police is investigating both incidents.
An earlier, separate public safety notice was issued Saturday after a female OSU student reported being raped in a South Campus residence hall. In that case, the woman reported the incident to University Police at about 10:20 a.m. Saturday. She said the incident had occurred between 3:20-4:30 a.m. that morning, according to the notice.
The suspect in that case — who was described as a 22 to 23-year-old white man, standing 5-foot-8 and weighing 150 pounds — was invited into the dorm after meeting the woman earlier that evening, the notice said.
There were no additional details, Denton said in an email Saturday night
Some students like Armand Ghazi, a first-year in biomedical engineering and a resident of the residence hall where the rape was reported, said he was stunned to learn of the incident.
“We would never imagine that happening,” he said. “We don’t know what floor it was on, we don’t know any of the story. Like we had no clue.”
Others like David Lopez, a first-year in molecular genetics, said the residence hall could step up its security efforts to make sure everyone who enters the building is accounted for.
“I went home to visit some friends at (the University of Cincinnati). What they do, is every time you have a guest, you have to sign them in and you have to present an ID. And when they leave you have to sign them out. So it’s a little bit obnoxious, but then you know you’re safe at all times, because if they don’t belong there, they can’t get in whatsoever,” he said.
According to OSU’s residential living handbook, residents can have guests in their rooms if they assume responsibility for their guests’ behavior. Guests must wait in residence hall lobbies for their host and may not enter the building unescorted at any time.
Susie Meyer, a second-year in neuroscience, said she still feels safe living in the South Campus residence hall.
“I feel safe living here still because (University Police) got the information out really quickly. It was just kind of scary, because me and my roommate were in our room during that time frame,” she said.
Meyer said she also thinks more victims of sexual assault are coming forward, which is, in turn, helping spread awareness.
“I feel like more people are just coming forward about it. I don’t think the prevalence (of rape) has increased at all. But as more people are making (sexual assault) a bigger issue and less people are scared to come forward about it, I think that everyone is more aware of their options, and if this happens more, people are less scared to come forward now,” she said.
Morgan Phillips, a first-year in mechanical engineering and resident of the same building, said she feels safe as well.
“We have the check-in people, and there’s like two to four people there at all times, and I think they do a pretty good job of watching over who goes in and who goes out,” she said. “And you need a card to get in and people are pretty good about watching that no one goes in behind them.”
Phillips said it’s easy to tell if someone coming in looks like they don’t belong.
“Since there’s always people going in and out, if you see someone suspicious, you can kind of tell right away,” she said.
There have been four notices issued so far this year for sexual assault-related incidents.
A public safety notice was issued Sept. 15 after a rape was reported in a North Campus dorm. The suspect had been identified and escorted from university property before the notice was issued nearly a day after the incident.
Another public safety notice was issued in February about a rape that allegedly occurred Jan. 25 in a residence hall. That notice said recent information about the rape had caused police officers to believe there was a continuing threat.
Public safety notices are issued when crimes occur that are considered to be a concern or a continuing threat to the OSU community.
About two-thirds of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network website.
OSU provides services for victims of sexual assault that include counseling, advocacy, wellness and health services through Student Life.
Ingrid Gardner and Nick Roll contributed to this story.