IU steps up awareness of Safe Ride program after reported attack on campus

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Parents of Indiana University students got a text alert overnight about a sexual assault on campus.

A 19-year-old student says an armed man grabbed her by the backpack, and forced her to touch him after she left the library. It happened on a walking path that crosses railroad tracks near the Kelley School of Business. The woman managed to flee before the assault escalated.

Finals week at Indiana University means one thing: students heading home after last-minute study sessions for exams.

"People are going to be coming at 3:00 am from the library," said Ben Mclinn, IU senior. "I walked back from the library at 3:00 am last night. I was fine."

A female student wasn't, though. IU Police say a man tried to sexually assault her at knifepoint in the woods along a well-travelled path between the Kelley School Business and Foster Parking Lot. The student was able to get away.

"I walk it almost every day to class," said Danielle Koch, an IU senior. But she considered taking a different route even during daylight hours after hearing about the attack.

"You just always have to be aware of your surroundings and maybe think before you take a path on a road or something like that," said Koch.

"There are a lot of wooded tree areas on campus which makes it beautiful, but at the same time, dangerous at night," said Caitlin Kelly, a senior.

That's why a lot of students, women especially, say they avoid taking this path at night.

"It depends on the time of night. If it's like eight o'clock, cool. If it's like three in the morning, I'm going to be more likely to go up the other street," said Sarah Nickison, IU freshman.

Students can get a free ride home through the school's Safe Ride Program which starts at 8:00 pm every night.

"A lot of people aren't aware of it," said Mclinn.

"I personally don't even know the number," said Koch.

Some choose to use the buddy system.

"A lot of us will stay late; we'll stay late with a friend," said Bethany Nickison, a freshman.

That wasn't the case for this student last night. She was alone and found herself vulnerable in an instant.

"I do feel really safe at IU, so it is kind of shocking that that did happen. I'm happy she was able to get away," said Kelly.

Police, meantime, want students to be aware of where the campus' Emergency Blue Light Phones are located. There are 57 of them, mostly in parking lots, and they're checked every 30 days to make sure they're working. But with everyone having a cell phone these days, police say they're not usually the first option when a student needs help.

When the student who reported last night's attack managed to get away, she ran to her dorm. She called 911 and reported what happened to police. A campus-wide alert went out to students and parents.

Call 812-856-RIDE to get a ride with the Safe Ride Program after 8:00 pm.