Home » Sections » Opinions » Administration not doing enough to combat South Street incidents

Administration not doing enough to combat South Street incidents

By José Castellanos

Section: Opinions

March 4, 2016

Since mid-November of 2015, there have been six incidents of indecent exposure and one attempted assault near the Brandeis campus, ranging from Walgreen’s to the power plant to the Charles River Apartments. The description of the suspects have wildly varied, from a male described as, “Approximately 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, possibly Hispanic,” to a “light-skinned Hispanic male, approximately 5 feet 7 tall, thin build with broad shoulders, in his mid-20s.” Every subsequent email has promised that every individual incident will be investigated and that Brandeis is working with Waltham police in order to take steps to prevent future incidents. The situation has, however, only worsened, culminating in an attempted robbery and assault on Feb. 19.

To say that these incidents are deplorable would be putting it lightly. Many Brandeis students have been sexually harassed or otherwise assaulted in incidents that are still inexplicably occurring. Although it is highly unlikely that the same individual is the perpetrator behind all of the indecent exposures, it is nonetheless important that authorities take higher measures to prevent future incidents because frankly, it seems that not enough is being done if the incidents have continued to occur until as recently as Feb. 23. This is especially critical due to the fact that it is unlikely that a member of the Brandeis community is behind the exposures, given that the suspects are often described as being between their mid-20s to early-30s.

Obviously this is not a simple issue to combat given the likelihood that there are multiple suspects that represent a deeper societal problem that makes them believe that indecent exposure is acceptable behavior. However, there are still multiple steps that can be taken, especially given that two of the incidents have occurred by the Charles River Apartments. It is critical to find solutions to this issue, given that many students are now wary of walking down South Street unaccompanied. “I don’t feel very safe on South Street,” said Katarina Weessies ’18. “Higher visibility on South Street would definitely make me feel more safe. Obviously this is a difficult issue for administration to address but it would be helpful if they helped students feel more safe.” So what can be done to prevent further incidents?

As Katarina said, higher visibility would be a step in the right direction, and understandably so. Often times, there are swaths of South Street that have less-than-optimal visibility conditions, especially between the power plant and the elementary school, where two separate incidents were reported. By increasing visibility, possibly by adding more street lamps to the area, the likelihood of any future attempts would decrease, as there would be a higher risk of the perpetrator being identified by whomever they may attempt to harass.

Additionally, the placement of more blue emergency lights around the outskirts of campus can allow for a shortened report and response time, perhaps making it more likely that the perpetrator may be caught. That being said, it is worth noting that parts of that land belong to the City of Waltham and not Brandeis University, and both of these solutions depend on heightened cooperation between the two. However, this is not wholly unreasonable to ask, as preventing further incidents of indecent exposure is in the best interests of both the university and the City of Waltham. And lastly, an increase in patrols of both the Waltham Police Department and Brandeis’ Department of Public Safety would add a heightened sense of security, and would increase the likelihood that the flashers may be caught.

None of this is to say that administration does not have the safety of students at heart. Rather, this is merely an expression of the opinion that not enough is being done, due to the fact that the incidents are still occurring and no arrests have yet been made. Solutions must be presented beyond “be mindful of your surroundings” and “walk without distracting headphones or ear phones.” The administration needs to show that it has the safety of students at heart by implementing measures such as these to ensure that Brandeis students can once again feel safe walking around their campus.

Menu Title