Sexual assault cases raise question of safety on campus

Ryan Cullom, Channels Staff

Rape and sexual assaults in college communities has recently taken center stage for college campuses nationwide, and City College is no different.

The shocking result of a large survey of college students discovered that nearly one in four women experience some kind of unwanted sexual advance during their time in college. In Santa Barbara’s college community in the south coast area, many City College students know someone that has had unwanted sexual advances.

“I have heard of a lot of groping incidents of people I know, but nothing further than that,” said City College sophomore Isabella Gonzales. “I have also heard many stories of girls going to parties and getting drugged and stuff happening.”

According to Kelly Hoover, public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s department, there have been 12 rapes and 13 sexual assaults reported in the Isla Vista area from Jan. 1, 2015 through November 1, 2015. The numbers of rapes reported in Isla Vista were higher in 2014 with 23 and 10 sexual assaults. In the area surrounding City College in 2014, there were seven reported rapes and 10 sexual assaults.

This year there has been one rape and three sexual assaults reported thus far. These numbers do not reflect the arrest of former City College football player Kenechukwu Denzel Ugwueze, who was charged for forcible rape in an Oceano Avenue apartment. Ugwueze was arrested on Sept. 11, after his 19-year-old victim filed a report.

Isla Vista has a higher crime rate than most other locations in the Santa Barbara County. Much of that is contributed to the fact that nearly 5 percent of the county’s population lives in the 2.2 square mile area filled with college students and a heavy party culture.

The area surrounding City College does not have any evidence of higher crime rates compared to the rest of the city. However, many students still feel uneasy walking at night in the area.

“At night I really don’t like walking,” said Caroline Fazenda, a City College sophomore and resident of Oceano Avenue. “Even on campus, I don’t feel safe at night.”

Lately there have been many groups and agencies on campus bringing awareness to the issue of sexual assault. One event was The Clothesline Project, which was sponsored by the City College Health and Wellness Center, City College Connect in association with the Feminist Club and the Rape Crisis Center. Isla Vista has also been trying to curb sexual assaults and other crimes by adding more lighting on the streets.

Even with the added efforts and attention being brought to the situation, college students still don’t feel very safe.

“My boyfriend used to live in [Isla Vista], and I would never want to walk alone,” Gonzales said. “Especially on a Friday or Saturday night.”

The campus security’s website lists steps to take if a student feels unsafe on campus or is a victim of sexual assault.

For more information, visit www.sbcc.edu/security.