Three burglaries and one sexual assault were reported during the early morning hours of Friday, Oct. 31 in off-campus housing. Nelly J. Makalin is currently being held on probation pending further investigation.
Students and community members argue these events serve as a reminder that although Stevens Point is generally a safe place, it is important to be aware of one’s surroundings and take precautions.
Bri O’Dell, the Women’s Resource Center’s resource coordinator, stressed it is important not to victim blame. Even if someone does not lock their doors or is distracted when walking, it is not his or her fault.
“Take self-defense seminars if you can,” O’Dell said. “If you‘re worried about being targeted, wear practical shoes and don’t be overly inebriated.”
O’Dell said women are not typically told it is a priority to be capable of being a physical threat. Some women say even if their life were at risk, it still would not be in them to hurt someone. She regards this as a huge social issue.
“If you are confident in yourself, usually a prepared stance and a scream is enough to drive a potential predator away,” O’Dell said.
She said pepper spray is a good idea when walking alone at night, but it is important to keep it in an easily accessible place, such as on a keychain.
“If you have it stored in your purse or backpack, it really isn’t doing you any good,” said Brock Majkowski, the president and founder of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s chapter of Wisconsin Students for Concealed Carry.
Majkowski said it is ideal to keep some sort of weapon at home, whether it is a baseball bat or firearm.
“Stevens Point is a safe place, but it is not a crime-free zone,” Majkowski said. “It’s a good idea to have the number for Protective Services in your phone in case of emergency.”
Old Main Neighborhood Association President Cindy Nebel stressed the importance locking doors. Many times, student renters are at more risk than homeowners.
“When students rent, they have multiple computers, bikes and TV’s in their homes,” Nebel said. “There is more to steal. There are more people coming and going, and it is easy for someone to spot a pattern and figure out when they might be able to get in.”
Nebel said it is important to come up with strategies as groups of renters.
“If you’re having a party where you may not know everyone, you should know that you’re opening yourself up to people checking out your place,” Nebel said.
She encourages students to obtain renter’s insurance and said it covers more than they might realize.
Even if students are home, Nebel encourages them to keep the door locked and check frequently to ensure those locks work. She also said it is important to make sure all roommates have a key to eliminate the possibility of a door being left unlocked to let someone in.
“It’s always a good idea to leave a light on at night,” Nebel said. “If something out of the ordinary is going on, your neighbors are going see and investigate.”
While the timely warning email did alert residents of the event, many advise against relying on these notifications.
“The timely warning notification is a nice thing, but it will not replace having a plan and preparing yourself to react to the imminent threat of death or great bodily harm,” said Jeremiah Kaminski, co-president of WSCC on campus. “Preparation is not paranoia. The police cannot protect you at all times. If they could, we would have zero crime. It’s up to each individual to prepare and protect him or herself. Doing otherwise is setting you up to be a victim.”