Students concerned after rape reported near GVSU

At least three reports of sexual assaults on or near campus since late August

Grand Valley State University
Grand Valley State University students gather near a bus stop. (Oct. 16, 2017.)

ALLENDALE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Within hours of the victim contacting police, students were notified via email that a rape had been reported near Grand Valley State University’s main campus in Allendale.

It’s at least the third alert of this nature that has been sent to students in an academic year that started in late August. Students received several similar alerts last school year, as well.

In the most recent case, a victim reported being raped outdoors near a group of off-campus apartments just west of the university. Police say the victim reported the assailant attacked her around 1:30 a.m. Saturday near The Lodges apartments in the area of Lodge and West Campus drives.

Students received an alert email from GVSU’s safety officials at 5:05 a.m. the same morning.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office says an investigation into the incident is ongoing, with detectives looking through video surveillance in the area for clues. Investigators say the victim is a 20-year-old woman who was not a student at GVSU.

“It’s definitely scary,” said Quinten Reid, a sophomore GVSU student who lives near the reported crime scene.

He said the alerts students have received have become seemingly routine.

“It seems like we get these emails all the time and they’re never followed up on or re-addressed. They just kind of like happen and they are never brought back up again,” Reid said. “I don’t know if that’s how the administration chooses to handle it or if they never find any of these people but it’s just kind of unsettling.”

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Mark Bennett said he doesn’t believe the campus is any less safe than it was in the past, but he does suspect that sexual assault incident reports have increased.

“I’m not sure that there’s any more incidents going on now than there have been in the past,” Bennett told 24 Hour News 8. “But I think people are more comfortable in coming forward with some of the information… They know they’ll be taken seriously when they report.”

Bennett said his department dedicates an officer to investigating incidents like this on and near GVSU’s campus. He said officers will have an increased presence in the area this weekend.

“Be alert,” Bennett said. “Advise your students to carry their phone at all times… Those types of things can be very helpful.”