Is Safety Being Compromised on Campus?


Samantha Vise, Volunteer Writer

As a young woman, personal safety is something I must be concerned with at all times. I remember on my first campus tour of UNA, one of the first things my mom asked our tour guide was whether or not she felt safe here on campus. The tour guide assured my mom and I that safety was a top priority at  UNA and went on to explain that since the university is small and predominantly female, safety was not a huge issue.

When I first arrived at UNA in the fall, I did feel safe. I assured my parents that I was going to be careful and that Florence was a safe town– they had nothing to worry about,  I would be perfectly fine. And while that remains true for me, it’s not true for everyone. Since I  arrived on campus in August, I have heard of multiple sexual assault cases that have occurred here at UNA. Just recently, there was a man charged with sexual assault in a Mattielou Hall dorm room. The man was arrested, but was released on bail and returned to the university. He was allowed to return to his residence hall, continue going to classes, and live his life normally. His victim does not get to live her life normally. Now, she has to fear for her safety every time she leaves her dorm room. The same place that she is supposed to call home is also the place where her assaulter is allowed to roam free. How can the university allow a convicted sexual assaulter to live on campus?

 This case was not brought to the attention of the students, and I only found out about it from working with the newspaper. Another case occurred in an Olive Hall dorm room in November of 2021. The same residence hall that I live in. Someone I am very close to was raped in her dorm room. It is horrifying knowing that there is a rapist sleeping only a few floors away from me every night. Housing and Residence Life and the UNA police department were both alerted, but nothing truly came of the case. Neither the police nor Housing and Residence Life were particularly helpful when dealing with my friend’s case. We pleaded with the housing department to make him change residence halls or make it to where he could not live  on campus, but there was “nothing they could do.” 

How can students be kicked out for say, smoking or drinking in the dorms, but a rapist is allowed to stay? Why does he get to continue to live in Olive Hall comfortably while his victims have to live in fear? That’s another rapist allowed to continue living  on campus, attend classes, and go to fraternity parties on the weekends. Every time I’m out with my friend and we see him, she panics. Her safety is constantly threatened and she is on edge everytime she leaves her dorm. That isn’t something that any student should have to go through. And multiple students are. This particular suspect has numerous Title IX cases against him, yet I continue to see him on campus.

Considering that UNA is a female dominated campus, it is shocking to me that this issue is being kept on the down low. There should be assemblies and flyers– anything to bring awareness for the females on campus. I came to UNA because it felt like a safe community with a homey feel. But a home is not somewhere where you should be scared. If those cases were swept under the rug, who knows how many more  sexual assault cases have been kept quiet by the university. There is no telling how many people  have been assaulted in the same dorm halls that  my friends and I hang out in. That sends a shiver  down my spine, knowing that such dangerous  people are allowed on my university’s campus  with the university’s knowledge. Students’ safety  is a priority and should be treated like such. 

Sexual assault is a very real and serious issue– and it should never be kept quiet.