With the majority of the Slippery Rock University (SRU) student body back on campus, local and state law enforcement have increased their presence across campus and the surrounding community.
On Sept. 3, Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) responded to two assaults at the off-campus housing complex, University Village. Those instances, along with a stabbing two weeks before at the property, has led management to make changes to keep residents safe.
Alexandra Liston, property manager at University Village, said at least one individual was injured in the two separate fights. The extent of the injuries is not known. In both instances, campus security broke up the attacks.
“There has been an uptick in unruly and dangerous behavior throughout the Slippery Rock community and ours here at University Village,” said Liston in an email sent to the residents. “Management is fully committed to doing its part in combatting this.”
Three policies were listed in an email sent to residents Sept. 5 to combat the uptick in violence. Any non-resident that is considered an uninvited guest will be issued a defiant trespass notice and is subject to arrest. Security will now monitor the Happy Bus to ensure all guests are there to see a specific person. University Village will also share information with PSP and SRU, regardless of residency.
The stabbing incident occurred Aug. 22 and the PSP is investigating it as assault with a weapon. The victim, a 21-year-old male, confronted three unknown individuals for breaking beer bottles while at a large outdoor gathering and was assaulted.
One of the attackers allegedly held a piece of glass from a broken bottle. During the assault, the victim was cut around six-to-eight-inches on his back. The offenders fled the scene soon after the attack. No arrests have been made.
Break-ins have been a recurring offense as well. On Aug. 4, a Slippery Rock graduate visiting friends had their Volkswagen GLI broken into while parked in the University Village guest parking. They reported multiple items stolen, including their work bag with paperwork, an iPad, golf clubs, fishing gear, boots, sunglasses and Bose earbuds. The iPad was later dumped back in the parking lot where it was found and brought to the University Village office.
Popular Slippery Rock area Twitter account, @srucrushes1, received posts from community members about break-ins happening to cars parked at not only University Village, but Campus Side Apartments and the Grove Apartments as well.
Drug-and alcohol-related incidents have been repeatedly reported in the University Police blotter in the first weeks of classes. So far, there have been four cases involving marijuana. In two of the cases, the individuals involved were transported to the hospital.
There have also been seven DUI arrests reported in the since the start of the semester, not only by SRUPD but Slippery Rock Borough Police and the PSP as well.
Kristina Benkeser, director of Student Health Services (SHS), stated how this increase of drug and alcohol abuse could possibly be caused by heavy drinking that took place over lockdown.
“The severity (of alcohol-related instances) has increased due to the amount of alcohol students are drinking,” Benkeser said. “Then, mixing alcohol with Red Bull or another stimulant is causing blackouts.”
Since 2018, there have been 12 substance abuse cases and 99 alcohol-related cases that were referred to her department, not including the current numbers from this current year.
Although Benkeser said it was very rare, the SHS department does see the occasional case of a drug overdose. The most common form of abuses the SHS deals with is over the counter medicines, such as Ibuprofen of Tylenol.
The Student Counseling Center (SCC) offers services for students struggling academically and personally, such as the adjustment to college, communication skills, depression, stress and anxiety. They also offer services related to drug and alcohol abuse. Students wanting assistance can visit the SCC in Rhoads Hall or call 724.738.2034.