Student concerns about safety persist following last week’s reported break-in and sexual assault at Mayflower Apartments and a second incident on Potter Street on Tuesday. In addition to increased security measures from the College, a number of student initiatives including a Safe Walk Facebook group, a Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) proposal and self defense classes have been created to increase real and perceived safety on campus.

According to Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols, all of the incidents from the past few weeks are under active investigation.

“We’re investigating these crimes with all resources,” he said. “I will not rest until we get some answers here. These can be very difficult cases, but that makes me more determined to get to the bottom of this. I’m really impressed with the effort and seriousness with which the BPD is taking this investigation and they're keeping us fully apprised and information is coming into us on a regular basis. One of these times it’s going to be the critical piece that we need.”

Multiple reports of prowlers and individuals looking through windows have been reported so far this year. Though Nichols said that BPD and Security have no reason to believe that any incidents are connected, the investigation has gone back to examine all past reports. Nichols said that there have been more prowler reports this year than in previous years.

“We always go back,” he said. “Sometimes there’s only so far you can take an isolated incident. As part of this larger investigation we go back and look at all our reports… We get bits and pieces every time of something that could be important.”

According to Nichols, students on campus are anxious about their personal safety.

“We’ve really gone from a situation where many students were oblivious about personal a point where they become quite panicked about it,” he said. “We really need to get back into the middle where people are just taking good, reasonable precautions to ensure their and their friends’ personal safety.”

Nichols said that there have been many more suspicious person calls than usual over the past week.

“People are being more vigilant… I was actually called in as a suspicious person last weekend,” he said. “That’s the level of hyper-vigilance that’s going on right now. But that’s okay. I'm glad the call came in.”

Late Thursday afternoon, Brunswick Police told the College they have learned of an independent support group for sex offenders that has been meeting on Tuesday evenings at First Parish Church, according to an email from Nichols.

The church leadership agreed to tell the group that they may no longer meet at First Parish.


Harry DiPrinzio.

Reports of incidents involving suspicious people around campus have occured with some degree of regularity in recent years Above is a visual representation of incidents involving suspicious people and intruders collected from Orient Security Reports since the beginning of the 2013 academic year. Peeping into windows is a recurring problem as are attempts by strangers to enter residences. The frequencey of these incidents has increased this year. There have been seven reported occurrences of these events since September. This data neglects incidents are not reported to security or do not appear on Orient Security Reports.

Increased security

Nichols highlighted multiple steps that Safety and Security and Facilities are taking to improve student safety on campus.

The porch lighting at Mayflower Apartments now turns on automatically. Additional lighting has also been added to the front and rear of the building.

Nichols also said that there will be significant changes to lighting at Brunswick Apartments, updates to cameras around campus and additional cameras in key areas.

“Whenever a serious incident happens, of course it galvanizes us and of course we start to look at things more deeply and things become more urgent,” he said.

Security has increased patrols around campus, and the BPD has increased their presence in neighborhoods around campus, according to Nichols.

Following the reported assault on Potter Street, Nichols went and talked to students who live in in that area.

Charlotte Alimanestianu ’16 lives on Potter Street, and said that the increased security and BPD presence has been reassuring.

“On Tuesday night there were police cars parked on the street and I’ve seen Security actually in Howell more, like when I’ve been coming home, which has been really reassuring,” she said. “And I genuinely do feel like campus security and the BPD has handled this very well, and I feel very safe… They’ve definitely been reaching out to us and reassuring to us, which I think makes a difference.”

Parking restrictions around campus have also been relaxed—students can now park in the Dayton lot behind Smith Union, the Coffin Street lot and College House lots beginning at 3 p.m., rather than 5 p.m.

Student response

Soon after an email from Nichols on Tuesday informed the student body that a female student reported that she was grabbed from behind on Potter Street, Zachary Duperry ’18 created a Facebook group, called Bowdoin Safe Walk, to coordinate walking buddies and rides around campus.

“It kind of started as an idea that I actually saw on Yik Yak,” said Duperry. “As soon as the second email came out about the second incident, I thought to myself, “Well that’s actually a good idea,” so I made the group, asked one of my friends to invite everyone she knew, and within an hour, 1,300 people had been there.”

He said that he’s had a lot of positive feedback.

“A lot of people are super thankful that it’s a thing, and they’re able to use it,” Duperry said. “My opinion is even if you’re not using’s nice that there’s just the reality that you know that so many people are willing to help you.”

Duperry said that he’s had conversations with Information Technology, and if demand for the group continues, they might be able to develop an app with the same function.

“The question is whether there is going to be long enough term demand for that type of service,” he said. “It’s whether this is enough for now or if it becomes a longer-term problem and a streamlined service becomes necessary.”

As of publishing, Bowdoin Safe Walk had 1,565 members.

Jacob Russell ’17, president of the Inter-House Council and member of the Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) Facilities and Sustainability Committee, brought a proposal to BSG at the meeting on Wednesday night aimed at increasing safety and security at College Houses. The proposal called for increased lighting at College House parking lots, the return of College House lots to student parking spaces and increased availability of SafeRide. The proposal also asked that Nichols and a representative from Facilities come to a BSG meeting to discuss campus security.

“We want to make sure the residents of the houses are feeling supported and are safe,” Russell said.

The proposal was unanimously approved by the BSG.

“The proposal is written in pretty broad strokes,” Russell said. “The next steps are follow-ups.”

Members of Safe Space have also been available to provide support to the community.

“Most of the sexual assaults that occur on college campuses here and throughout the country are not perpetrated by a stranger, and so I think that this feels really different to Bowdoin’s community in that way,” said Meg Broderick ’16, one of the leaders of Safe Space. “We talked about a feeling on campus of community crisis.”

Though Safe Space members are trained as confidential advocates for survivors of sexual assault, their training focuses on issues surrounding sexual assault that are more common on college campuses, such as date rape.

“Most of our conversations about sexual assault are about issues of consent, whereas this feels different,” Broderick said.

However, they’ve held open hours for students at 24 College over the past week.

“In this case, one of the difficulties Safe Space members are facing right now is that we’re members of the community that we’re supporting,” she said.

A number of students, including Kylie Moore ’16 and Mary Frances Harris ’16, are planning to teach self-defense.

“I’ve taken self-defense classes in Alaska,” said Moore. “Coming from a family where self-defense is really emphasized, I felt like I wanted to be able to share that, and I wanted other people to have a sense of security.”

Harris took self-defense classes in high school.

“I just thought it was really beneficial,” Harris said.

Though neither is certified to teach self-defense, they both believe that they can pass along some general skills.

“I think a lot of students really appreciate the idea of having a self-defense course, and a lot of people have tried to come together to find the best way to approach that,” said Moore. “We just wanted to do something that would help campus feel safe.”