By Krista Ritz
Stalking is a growing crime on college campuses, and Youngstown State University is no exception to this trend. A student spoke out about her experience with stalking on campus, detailing the severity of the issue.
Mark Weir, director of Equal Opportunity and Policy Development, said although there was only one reported perpetrator at YSU last year, multiple women were targeted by the offender.
“We had four official cases, all for the same respondent,” Weir said. “These multiple individuals alleged different things against this individual.”
One of the women affected by the perpetrator spoke to The Jambar under the condition of anonymity.
“I met him in one of my classes and we became friends instantly and he seemed like a really nice person,” the student who was targeted said.
After a few months, she said, the perpetrator stopped showing up for class. When he was arrested in Pennsylvania and charged with raping a minor, she and her classmates began discussing the ways he had harassed them.
“In my own personal experience, he did touch me, not explicitly or inappropriately, but [he got] too close without asking. There wasn’t any consent given,” she said. “At one point, he had put his hand over my hand while I was writing in class and I looked at him and said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ He had [also] placed his hand on my thigh.”
Together, the student and seven other complainants with similar stories about the perpetrator reported him to the Title IX office.
According to Weir, the Office of Student Conduct held a judicial hearing and recommended the vice president of Student Affairs and the director of Student Conduct should expel the perpetrator.
Weir said when a complaint is filed with his office, targeted students are provided with no-contact orders and perpetrators can face removal from school. Weir said the complaints must be considered “severe or objectively offensive.”
YSU Police Chief Shawn Varso said once campus police become aware of a situation, they act on it quickly to ensure the safety of the students involved.
“Our department is here. We are out there patrolling. We’re out there as an active presence in the campus community,” Varso said. “If anyone does have the slightest of doubt whether something is a crime or not, they can come to us and speak to us.”
The complainant of last year’s case expressed gratitude toward the Title IX office for handling the case with immediate care.
While incarcerated at the time of the hearing, the perpetrator made a video apologizing to the YSU female students he targeted. When offered an opportunity to view the video, the interviewed complainant respectfully declined.
“It didn’t do justice to everything that had happened because a lot of people were involved in this case,” she said. “Grades slipped, people weren’t able to go to class and feel safe. It was crazy and the apology didn’t suffice.”
One year later, the targeted student feels comfort in knowing the perpetrator is incarcerated. Now, she said, she is not as trusting of people and “watches her back,” especially on campus.