SAN MARCOS — In the first three weeks of the fall semester at Cal State San Marcos, students received alerts regarding four incidents of sexual assault in campus housing.
According to the university, the alerts came in the form of Clery Timely Warnings, messages sent to the campus community to provide information to help prevent others from becoming the victim of a similar crime.
New students began moving into campus housing on Aug. 24, and the semester started Aug. 28.
In an alert sent out Sept. 5, the university said they received a report of two incidents involving the same individuals. A female student said that on Aug. 27, she was involved in a consensual sexual encounter with a male student but withdrew her consent to continue. She said the male student proceeded to commit physical battery against her.
She also reported that on Aug. 30, the same male student groped her.
In another incident on Aug. 28, a student reported being raped by a male student acquaintance in an on-campus apartment unit, according to a Sept. 1 alert.
Another alert issued on Sept. 11 stated that a student reported being followed from a social gathering on campus to their on-campus apartment unit and then being sexually assaulted by an unknown perpetrator on Sept. 2.
The most recent alert was issued on Sept. 14, stating that the day prior, a student in on-campus housing reported witnessing another student nonconsensually groping and sexually assaulting her roommate and a guest.
“Each case is followed up on by our Title IX Office and, in many cases, our campus law enforcement if the survivor wishes to pursue criminal charges. Each survivor is offered support and resources,” said university spokesperson Margaret Chantung.
Students who meet with the Title IX office can discuss whether they wish to pursue a remedies-based resolution or disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator, which requires an investigation, according to university policies.
University leaders have also publicly addressed the high number of incidents. In a Sept. 15 video message, Vice President of Student Affairs Viridiana Diaz commended the students who came forward and said it is essential to create an environment where survivors of sexual assault feel empowered to do so.
“While it can be startling and concerning to see these reports, on so many campuses, people do not report these incidents. To the survivors, please know that we stand with you, and you are not alone. Our students and bystanders are coming forward when we know statistically, they go unreported on most college campuses,” Diaz said.
“I want you to know how seriously I, along with all those who do this work every day, take these reports. Each one is connected to a student who matters. I want to be clear — sexual assault and violence are never the fault of the victim, and we can expect more reports because today, I want to send a message that we want anyone who has experienced sexual violence or assault to make their voices heard. We will take every report seriously and provide you with support and resources.”
Student housing personnel are conversing with residents in response to the high number of alerts, Diaz added, and “doubling down” on providing health and wellness resources, support and opportunities for further prevention and education regarding sexual assault and sexual violence.
As a comparison, the university did not issue any Clery warnings regarding sexual assault during the 2022-23 academic year, according to university spokesman Brian Hiro.
However, he reiterated that these warnings do not encapsulate all incidents of sexual assault and said timely alerts are sent when there is a “serious and ongoing threat.” When there is a significant time gap between an incident and when it is reported to the university, an alert would not be sent to the community.
“Timely warnings are sent on a case-by-case basis, and there are many factors involved,” Hiro said. National data indicates that sexual assault is pervasive and chronically underreported on college campuses. Among undergraduate students, 26.4% of females and 6.8% of males experience sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN).
Additionally, just 20% of female students who experience sexual assault will report it to law enforcement, RAINN reports.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.