ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As authorities continue to investigate recent reports of sexual assaults near Grand Valley State University, a student is petitioning the school to up security.
The online petition for the university to install emergency call buttons around the Allendale campus had nearly 1,800 signatures as of Friday afternoon. GVSU junior Courtney Hostetler started it in response to the four sexual assaults reported near campus since late August.
“Whether it be call lights or anything, I just think the petition really shows that people care,” Hostetler told 24 Hour News 8. “The emotional part of me is like, I pay so much money to be here and there’s over 25,000 of us, so there’s really no reason something shouldn’t be done.”
Because of the attention the petition getting, she met with the president of the Student Senate, Ella Fritzmeier, Friday afternoon to discuss options to increase campus security.
One concern is the emergency call buttons have become somewhat outdated because new technologies like the RAVE Guardian app make contact with police even more quickly.
“Even in 2010, they were questioning the effectiveness of these lights, but if it does make a student safer that’s definitely something we’re willing to look into,” Fritzmeier told 24 Hour News 8.
Here’s how the RAVE Guardian app works: Once you’ve registered, you can add people as ‘guardians.’ Then, whenever you’re walking home late or meeting someone you don’t know, you can set a timer. If you haven’t used the app to check in and say that you’re safe before the timer runs out, RAVE will notify your guardian.
There’s also an option to send tips and photos directly to GVSU campus police if you’re witnessing or are a victim in a crime.
In addition to the app, the Student Senate is looking at starting a group that will also help students get home safe.
“We’d really like to start some type of a buddy system where you can call this number and somebody will come or a group of people will come to walk you home so you feel safe so it’s more of a community effort,” Fritzmeier explained.
The Student Senate is also creating a standing committee to examine different ways to enhance safety and resource awareness around campus.
There are similarities between the recent sexual assault reports — they all happened in places where students live or walk near campus when it was dark, they all appear to be random and all four victims are female university students.
The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office told 24 Hour News 8 Friday the investigation into the assaults is ongoing. Anyone with information about them is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 616.738.4022 or Silent Observer at 877.887.4536.
More information about resources on GVSU’s campus can be found on its website.