Talking about stalking on campus

By Daniel Shapiro
Jambar Contributor

Stalking is a threat to students at Youngstown State University, as 21 stalking cases were reported from 2022 to 2023.

YSU defines stalking as “any repeated behaviors or activities whether in-person, online or through any other means which threaten or endanger safety, danger or mental health, life or property of another, or creates a reasonable fear of such a threat or action.”

Shawn Varso, YSU police chief, said knowing the signs of stalking is key to preventing it.

“First of all, you are having an encounter with someone you are familiar with. You may be friends [with], having a class with them or they may be a coworker. These individuals start showing up to your house, to where you live. They start showing up to your class. You start getting [direct messages] from them,” Varso said.

Varso said students should look for patterns of stalking and contact the police if they experience signs or know someone who may be a victim.

“Be aware of your surroundings, be aware if someone is following you,” Varso said. “The more you can document with the law enforcement, the better.”

Varso said he believes the 21 reported cases aren’t the only stalking cases, as many go unreported.  

“You have to understand that’s not the actual total number of stalking cases, that’s what has been reported to us,” Varso said. “There are people who don’t report being stalked that could be being stalked on campus.”

Madison Jerome, deputy Title IX coordinator, said students should also contact the office of Title IX and file a Penguin of Concern form if anyone experiences stalking or feels threatened about being stalked.

“You can submit a form for either yourself, a roommate, friend, teammate, and you would just list all their information, your [information], and it asks you a series of questions of what is taking place,” Jerome said. “Being vigilant of what’s taking place either online or in person, and I always tell everyone to go with your gut feeling.”

Title IX also handles sexual violence cases such as sexual harrasment, sexual misconduct and dating domestic violence.

According to Varso, a student security service is available 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday for those who feel unsafe walking across campus alone.

“[The security service will] walk you to your class, walk you back and forth to your car,” Varso said. “They are somebody that can walk with you to those areas that you don’t have to walk alone.”

Students can register for the service online then call (330) 941-1515 anytime they need service.