Assault victim speaks out

Campus safety, lighting continuing issues

Naomi Fuhrmann, Staff Writer

On the evening of Wed. Jan. 28, a woman De Anza College student was walking near the Planetarium when she noticed a “creepy” man nearby.

“I left and I felt like he was following me and I looked back and he actually was following me,” said the student who told La Voz she was the victim of the sexual assault the FHDA District alerted students about later that night.

La Voz is not naming the victim.

“He went around the building and got in front of me and pulled me into the corner,” she said. “He started getting aggressive and he pulled me against the wall and I pushed him away from me and that’s when I punched him in the throat. Then he was like out of breath and I ran to the De Anza police station.”

The incident shook her up and left her feeling vulnerable.

“I feel like it took some kind of the feel of safety that I can go to school and not be attacked away from me,“ she said.

Many students did not consider sexual assault as a possible danger around campus before the incident.

“I didn’t think something like that would happen, but now I’m more worried,” said Ratika Sethi, 19, physics major.

Others who heard about the assault said they do not feel safe walking around campus at night.

“I didn’t really want to have a class at night so I chose morning and afternoon classes,” said Emma Emburui, 19, communications major. “I don’t feel unsafe because I’m always around people, but if I were alone I would be scared.”

After the assault in fall quarter 2013 students have had a growing concern about campus safety, especially the because of the dark areas on campus at night.

“Lighting improvements have been made through both recent construction bonds. Lights on campus are monitored, with any outages addressed as soon as possible,” said Marisa Spatafore, assistant vice president of communications.

Even so, students did not feel safe on campus even before the assault.

“Last quarter I was going to take a night class and there was this guy who kept buzzing around me and kinda followed me, said Ryann White, 21, nursing major. “And I did feel uncomfortable, but I wasn’t in a shadow and I was close to a classroom and I knew that they would help me if I were in trouble.”

The FHDA district sent an email notification to the De Anza student body regarding the assault the night it happened and described the assailant.

The victim described the assailant as “possibly Latino or Middle Eastern, 5’5” to 5’6” inches tall, with short brown hair, bushy eyebrows and unshaven, with a cut above his lip and strong body odor,” according to the email notification from the FHDA District.

De Anza College president Bryan Murphy addressed the assault and lighting situation at a previously scheduled forum on Jan. 29 discussing women, gender, and sexuality.

“[The lighting] is a continuing concern that a lot of us share,” Murphy said. “I think there is a broader issue…which is the degree to which we can have conversations early on. Not just about what’s appropriate behavior and what’s inappropriate, but how to protect each other and how to take care of each other.”

Adding lights could eliminate or lessen scary incidents for many students around campus who have experienced similar situations before.

“I definitely think that De Anza is not lit enough at night,” the victim said. “I have heard that they’ve been trying to do something about it, but they haven’t done something about it yet.”