President Issues Campus Safety Update

Editor’s note: This message was emailed to all students, faculty and staff on Dec. 8, 2016.

Dear Campus Community,

The University Police Department (UPD) is investigating six cases of sexual battery that have been reported since October 17. These crimes occurred in Duncan Hall, Sweeney Hall, the Student Union, and Boccardo Business Complex. All of the victims were students.

These disturbing incidents have caused understandable anxiety in our community. I’m writing today to update you on the status of the investigations and several steps being taken or contemplated to enhance campus safety and security.

Responding to a tip from the community, UPD has identified and arrested a suspect in the Student Union case. The suspect is an SJSU student and it is believed that he may have committed additional unreported sexual batteries. If you were a victim of a sexual battery within the last week in the area of Clark Hall or the Dining Commons, please contact UPD.

Police are uncertain if other suspects are affiliated with SJSU. They believe that a single suspect may be associated with at least two of the remaining cases. Leads provided over the past few days are being pursued and police foot patrols have been intensified around campus.

It’s important to know what “sexual battery” means: touching intimate body parts without consent. While this may sound less severe than sexual assault, this behavior is deeply traumatizing to victims. I urge anyone who has been subjected to such conduct to contact UPD as soon as possible.

According to annual crime reports published by UPD, 11 cases of sexual battery were reported here in 2015, compared to 17 cases in 2016 (with several weeks remaining this calendar year). While there is no indication that we are experiencing a significant year-to-year increase in these crimes, even one case is too many.

We all know that campus safety and personal security is a real concern. Vice President for Administration and Finance Charlie Faas has been developing a comprehensive safety plan in collaboration with other campus stakeholders. Here are key elements:

Additional security cameras: Twenty-four additional cameras will be purchased and installed in the near future to complement existing video surveillance systems. But as a cautionary note, this video will be used as an investigatory tool and is not monitored in real time.

Police staffing: Recruiting is underway for six additional UPD patrol officers, which will increase the number of sworn officers on our campus to 32. UPD has received approval to hire an additional four Public Safety Assistants, which provides our own students with the opportunity to gain professional experience and expands the Safety Escort program.

Enhanced lighting: Like many of you, I often walk this campus late into the evening. I am very concerned about areas that lack adequate lighting or create blind spots for pedestrians. Additional lighting and related work will begin during the winter break, and continue through spring term.

While these plans move forward, I also want to ask for your help. Chief Decena this fall established a Student Advisory Board composed of students from all aspects of the campus community. This group has already offered many valuable insights. If you have suggestions or would like to get involved, please contact Chief Decena directly at peter.decena@sjsu.edu.

As an urban campus located in the center of a major U.S. city, working to enhance our collective safety and keeping you regularly updated will remain an ongoing top priority.

Sincerely,

Mary Papazian
President