What do Ted Bundy, John Norman Collins and Danny Harold Rolling have in common? They are all serial killers who attacked and murdered college students.
With the recent attack that took place in the women’s restroom of the Pfau Library on January 14, I was reminded of these three men that targeted women on their own college campus. This act of violence also brought me back to an unsettling experience I had at CSUSB.
On July 23, 2019, I walked to parking lot D to move my car closer to my next class. As I approached my car, I noticed a man looking around frantically and acting suspiciously. He stood in between two cars and it was obvious that he was not looking for where he had parked. When we made eye contact, my gut told me to get into my car and lock the doors.
I got into my car safely and decided to reverse the car a little further back than normal to see what the man was trying to do. As I reversed the car, I was horrified by the sight of this man’s genitals as he masturbated in the school parking lot. I immediately called 9-1-1, and they connected me to campus police.
The following day, the University Police Department (UPD) sent out an email notifying staff and students that the suspect had been caught, arrested and issued a campus stay away order.
After that incident had occurred, I remember feeling unsettled and anxious about walking to my car alone. Then, I reminded myself that I had handled that situation in the best way that I could have in that moment. Maybe it was because I had just started listening to a murder podcast called My Favorite Murder and could mentally hear podcast hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark reminding me to “stay sexy and don’t get murdered.” Either way, I was able to take this as a learning lesson to remind myself, as well as others, to be vigilant of your environment and to use your resources.
It’s important that all students educate themselves on ways to take precautions on and off-campus.
Criminal Justice major Key Mabien stated, “I usually walk to work with my best friend and we both carry pepper spray. Because I do read about what happens on campus and the fact that we’re not necessarily in the safest city, I try to take precautions by always being alert.”
The UPD sends out an email to students and staff every time a crime is reported on or near campus, which has prompted some students to become more aware of their surroundings.
Liberal Studies major Alexis Avila said, “I read all the emails that are sent and make sure to read it in great detail. I also always walk to my car with someone and make sure I’m vigilant. I’m never on my phone when walking to my car.”
These emails have also led students to taking action in the event of an emergency. “After receiving an email about an incident that happened on campus, I set up a plan for myself and looked at all the exits I can take or places I can hide in case anything happens,” said Kelly Garcia, a Senior and Criminal Justice major at CSUSB.
Remember your resources and contact the Campus Escort Service if you don’t feel safe walking alone to your car. If you do not want to choose that option, use the buddy system with your friends instead. “We walk together to our cars and one of us will drive the other to her car if we aren’t parked close to each other,” said Human Development majors Brittany Rivas and Angelica Pantoja.
Another resource that is free and available to all students is the Live Safe app that can be downloaded on your smartphone. Some of the features on the app allow students to: report suspicious activity, contact the UPD, and allow friends to track them as they walk to different locations on campus.
Detective Lance Higgins from our UPD also advised students, “Park your car in the best place you can under lighting, have other friends walk with you too. You have to keep yourself safe by following everyday common sense rules.”
Although not every situation will present itself in the same way, it’s essential that everyone educate themselves on the resources they have available to protect themselves from harm. I don’t want students to live in constant fear of what could happen, or what has happened. I just hope that students remember to be aware of their surroundings, look out for one another, and to “stay sexy and not get murdered.”