Examining safety after residence hall assault

Andrew Braddock | Evergreen reporters

An assault occurred Tuesday night at McEachern Hall, as a female student was struck from behind as she entered her residence.

Originally labeled a sex offense in the WSU Police logs, Assistant Chief Steve Hansen could not confirm whether or not a sexual crime had occurred.

When asked Thursday whether the victim had lost consciousness during the encounter, or whether her clothes had been removed, WSU Police Department Administrative Sgt. Mike Larsen said he could not confirm or deny.

The victim described the assailant as a darker skinned male, between 5 feet 8 inches and 5 feet 11 inches, wearing a brown hooded sweatshirt.

As of press time, the suspect is still at large, and Larsen said police do not have any leads, and that the investigation is ongoing.

In response to the assault, Dean of Students Melynda Huskey said the best thing students can do is exercise their best judgment. She said situations like the case on Tuesday are concerning, but also very rare.

“What’s important from my perspective is for students to know that this type of thing is quite unusual,” Huskey said. “We want students to be thoughtful and careful, but we don’t want students to be driven by excessive concern.”

That said, Huskey outlined measures that students can take to ensure their safety, like walking with friends at night, staying in well-lit places, and using Women’s Transit.  

”Trust your instincts – if you feel something may not be right, reach out, or have your cell phone ready to dial 911,” She said.

Huskey also said that creating a sense of community can help students feel safer.

“If you know a neighbor that may not have someone – someone who is maybe isolated – reach out to that person and make sure they have someone to call and a way to connect,” she said. “Or just check in with each other a little bit more.”

In a follow-up interview request Thursday night, the WSU Police Department declined to comment on measures students can take to stay safe.

If anyone has any further information about the case they can contact the WSU Police Department at 509-335-8548.