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Central Square Sexual Assault Prompts Campus-wide Alert

By Sanjay Basu
ASSOCIATE NEWS EDITOR

A campus-wide community alert was sent to students recently after a female was sexually assaulted in Central Square. The assault occurred in the mid-afternoon when a black male, approximately 21 years of age, grabbed the female victim from behind and forced her into an office building on Pearl Street, between Mass. Ave. and Green Street.

The assailant was wearing a baggy gray sweatshirt and baggy white pants, along with a nylon scarf covered by a white headband. Police reported that the victim had seen the assailant earlier in the day at Harvard Square.

U. Mass. threatened by rapist

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has faced a series of rapes that have all occurred on Tuesday nights. The attacks began on Nov. 2, when a female student was reported raped at the Campus Pond -- at the heart of the university’s campus.

A second woman was raped by the pond on Tuesday Nov. 9. But the most recent attack involved a woman who was slashed in the face one week later. Ironically, an antiviolence rally was assembling across the street that Tuesday.

No incidents, however, occurred last Tuesday. But students do not believe the problem is over.

“They can have more cops, and cut down all the bushes,” said U. Mass. student Donnette Viscay to a Boston Globe reporter. “But how do we know if and when something else might happen?”

Student government officials at the school have organized rallies, at which several administrators have appeared to tout their plans for increased security. Administrators have already distributed to students 10,000 “shriek alarms” -- hand-held devices that produce a deafening noise when activated. U. Mass. Chancellor David Scott has ordered 5,000 more, which will be distributed among the university’s 18,000 students.

“Whatever differences we have, we need to be talking about this peculiar situation,” Scott told students at a rally last Tuesday. Scott has received both commendation and scorn from students for his attempts to pacify fears.

School administrators have since allowed students with parking permits to use any parking lot on campus and have also started a shuttle bus service to and from the campus library.

Meanwhile, student government officials have erected two 8-foot walls by the Campus Pond, which students have used to vent their feelings of anger and sorry in spray paint and pinned-up poetry. But the recent lull in campus rapes has caused some students to claim that the victims might be lying, generating outrage within an already shaken community.