Numerous men still on the loose after lewd activity near Chapman University’s campus. Photo illustration by Cienna Roget.

Over the past semester, Chapman students have received an increased number of emails warning about sexual battery, fondling, lewd conduct, and indecent exposure around campus. 

Not all the problems are from overzealous male students. Chapman University, as an open campus, gets its fair share of — there’s no better word for it — creeps.

Male non-students who hang around campus making students were uncomfortable. And sometimes unsafe. 

Covid-19 and the campus shutdown has made it impossible to get up to date statistics. But the campus safety office is aware of the problem.

“We have had a recent uptick in some of this behavior,” said Randy Burba, Chief of Public Safety, just before the shutdown. 

Chief Burba’s office notifies the students with incident reports. Some students say that’s not enough.

Junior Portia Magliana doesn’t think Chapman is taking adequate precautions to address these situations.

“Part of the reason it is becoming such an issue is because Chapman doesn’t do enough to acknowledge the problem here,” the strategic and corporate communications major said. “If they made a bigger deal about the things happening on and off-campus, that would send a message to students that Chapman cares.”

She also believes acknowledging cases to a greater extent would send a message to the surrounding community that people at Chapman are watching out and will be more diligent in holding people accountable.

“These perverted acts are something that no one should get away with and Chapman should show their diligence in ensuring this,” Magliana said.

So the question arises, is there more than the university can be doing to prevent such acts from happening instead of only responding to already happened crimes? Perverted acts and Creeps is a problem not exclusive to Chapman. Chief Burba noted an increase in this kind of behavior at USC as well.

Unfortunately, this problem extends to any public place. An open campus will always be an opportunity for creeps to find their way in. 

Though Chapman has recognized the increase in these incidents, the Orange Police Department says it’s not exclusive to just the campus and its students.

Police Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department noted that these events happen everywhere; parks, malls, parking lots, and other schools. 

“It is pretty much the same as other universities, we want everyone to be careful and be aware but not to live in constant fear,” McMullin said.

One Chapman student, who had requested anonymity for her own safety, found herself in a potentially dangerous situation when walking on Palm Street toward the main campus from Dodge College around 7 p.m. A small black car with weathered paint that had been described in previous incident reports approached her and a man rolled down a car window. 

She recognized who this could be and avoided the car by pretending to be on a call and quickly walked away. The car followed her down the street for a few minutes before leaving. She did not report this because she believed that nothing worth reporting actually happened.

But both campus safety and the city police urge students to report such incidents immediately. The police want to know about every potentially unsafe situation so they can allocate more resources and resolve the situation quickly.

“Call if you see something suspicious,” Burba said. “Trust your gut instinct; if something does not seem right call for assistance.”

Chapman’s problems are exacerbated because Dodge is several blocks down Palm Street from the main campus. That’s where many of these problems occur. But the most Chapman can do to control that area is to provide more surveillance and a bigger presence of public safety. The problem with that is Burba’s limited budget to hire more officers.

But can students do something on their own? If you are a student that feels unsafe, here are suggestions that Chief Burba recommends:

  • Always remain aware of your surroundings. It will help to avoid potentially dangerous and disturbing situations. Have a sense of the neighborhood, watch mentality is the best
  • Call if you see something suspicious.
  • Travel in groups when feasible.
  • Trust your instincts. If something does not seem right, call for assistance.

If you feel in danger, call Chapman Public Safety: (714) 997-6763, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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