Stalking on the rise at SBCC, social media possible culprit

Marie Lassaigne, Staff Writer

Reports of stalking on campus have quadrupled in the past three years— and some speculate social media is responsible.

Over the past three years, stalking reports have gone from three to thirteen. A suspect has been identified and notified in the last three cases, causing the incidents to cease.

“The most obvious reason is social media,” said Linda Esparza Dozer, the college’s recently hired Title IX officer. “People in general, and students especially, live and die by their social media. That offers a stalker a real window into someone’s life.”

In the most recent Dec. 7 incident, three student employees of the Luria Library Buzz Shack reported a male student repeatedly attempting to engage in conversation and ask for the student employees’ personal information. He also offered to walk them to their cars and made them uncomfortable by staring at them. This case was referred to Title IX Department.

Title IX is a law that was created to counteract gender-based crimes on campus. Its purpose is to maintain safety in the learning environment.

In the second most recent incident, a female student reported Nov. 26 that a male student repeatedly approached her and attempted to engage in unwanted conversation. He was frequently spotted outside of her classes, which she believed was intentional. This continued throughout the fall semester and the case was also referred to Title IX.

Director of Campus Security Erik Fricke also attributed the rise in stalking to social media, but said the data will never be fully accurate because many stalking victims do not report the crime.

“The reasons can vary from the victim not knowing how to make the report, not knowing who to make the report to, fearful retaliation, even unsure of what is actually taking place,” Fricke said.  “It disrupts the learning environment for the victim where they feel that their personal safety is at risk.”

If stalking victims and the suspect are both on campus, it makes it harder for students to focus on their education. Title IX accounts for these kinds of stalking incidents.

Dozer has several ideas to decrease stalking, both on a community level and a personal level.

“In order to try to at least greatly reduce it, it really takes the Title IX department working together in collaboration with Erik Fricke, with the Administration, with both faculty and students,” Dozer said. “Also just being aware of your surroundings, being aware of people and I think everyone has to remember to use privacy settings.”

Campus Security also offers students escorts to and from their cars and classes if they feel unsafe.

Students can obtain an escort by calling (805) 730-4200 x2269.