NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Rutgers University community was alarmed Tuesday by a sex attack in a dorm, which happened just 24 hours after former Vice President Joe Biden was at the school speaking out against sexual violence.
As CBS2’s Jessica Borg reported, students sadly said they were not surprised to hear of the assault. Such crimes are reported on college campuses around the country, but Rutgers is known for being very proactive when it comes to sexual violence prevention and education.
A female student was assaulted in her own dorm room at Mettler Hall on the Rutgers New Brunswick campus. There are no surveillance cameras, but people need an access card to get in.
“People have really got to learn to keep their hands to themselves,” said Rutgers student Kiel Portnoy.
Rutgers police are trying to identify the young man involved. It happened on Friday, around 4:30 p.m.
Students and staff were sent a crime alert on their cell phones.
“It’s scary to think that it could happen to anyone,” said Rutgers student Sanjana Pemmaraju, “and it’s scary to think that it does happen to people.”
Rutgers police say the student was sitting in her room with her door open, when a young man she didn’t know walked in and started kissing her and groping her.
The student was able to break away and demanded that the man leave — and he did. The only description of him was “a thin, college-aged white male, with blonde hair.”
The alleged incident happened one day after Biden came to the school to discuss sexual violence, and praised Rutgers for special programs that raise awareness.
Students are required to take an online course about consent.
“Our goal is to change culture, and we know that culture change takes time,” said Dr. Felicia McGinty, vice chancellor of student affairs at Rutgers. “And it can’t happen because the administration has a rule or policy. It has to happen – it happens when we engage students.”
On Rutgers’ New Brunswick campus last year, eight groping incidents were reported. Five of them took place in dorms.
The year before, 14 incidents were reported – eight of them in dorms.
“It’s definitely scary,” a student said.
But students are grateful the victims came forward.
“I have a girlfriend. I have a mother. I have a sister,” said Rutgers student TJ Ricci. “I couldn’t imagine anything like that happening to them.”
Rutgers police late Monday reminded students to take the usual safety precautions – being aware of their surroundings, locking doors and windows at night, and walking in groups during late hours.