Two first-year Mills students were sexually assaulted a half-mile off campus on Tuesday, Sept. 13, according to an official statement from Mills College.
The statement said that the crime took place at 5:30 p.m. and occurred at the corner of 64th Avenue and MacArthur Blvd. According to Dean of Students Joanna Iwata, no one saw the crime but people helped the two women, and the students filed a report with the Oakland Police Department later that evening.
The statement described the accused suspect as a “thin Latino male with three dot tattoos near his left eye and on his neck.” The statement said that he was on a bicycle when the incident occurred.
Iwata said that the suspect is not an acquaintance of the women. She said that both the Oakland Police Department and Mills Public Safety are on the lookout for anyone who fits the suspect’s description. The victims were not available for comment.
Mills’ SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) is working in conjunction with Public Safety to ensure the safety of the students and the rest of the Mills community, Iwata said.
According to the official statement made by the school, new procedures for monitoring access to Mills took effect on Sept. 17. The e-mail specified that everyone entering the college between midnight and 5 a.m. must stop at the gatehouse and show a valid Mills photo ID. People in vehicles will also need to present a current Mills parking tag. If individuals without a Mills ID plan to enter campus between the times stated above, then they must be prepared to show another form of current identification and give specific information on their destination.
Dan Brown, director of Public Safety, said the measures are to increase campus security. “We’re adjusting the access to the front gate … to have more control of who comes on [campus].”
Iwata, who is also a member of SART, stressed that “it’s important for people to be reminded that … we are in an urban area.”
Robin Cumming, a first-year resident of Warren Olney Hall, voiced her concern for students on campus, “Even in an urban city, I should still feel safe on campus … and I don’t feel like I am.”
Asked why she did not feel safe on campus, Cummings said, “If you open the front door [to Warren Olney dorm], it stays open for a really long time … It would be really easy for someone to just sneak in the dorm.” She suggested having security guards stationed at the entrances to dorms.
It is also important to be well prepared in the event of an assault. Pepper spray, a self-defense tool that is often used to momentarily disable the eyes of an attacker, is available at drug stores for under $10.
There is an abundance of self-defense classes offered in both the Mills community and Oakland area. Students at Mills can receive a quarter-credit for Personal Defense for Women or Karate; both courses, taught by Vanessa Wilson, are offered in the spring and fall. Freshwomen are also welcome to attend a personal defense workshop on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m. in the Solidarity Lounge as part of the Mills Life 101 series.