Downtown assaults spur safety reminder

Marisa Comeau-Kerege, News Editor

On Feb. 22 and March 2, University of Wisconsin Madison’s Wisc Alerts sent out two reports about incidences of sexual assaults on campus.  With many of our students living or hanging out downtown, it is important that students are aware of these situations and know how to handle them.

In the first case, a student was leaving the Kollege Klub Bar and was pulled into an alley way and assaulted by a stranger.  UW Police Department issued a safety reminder to students to be aware of their surroundings at all times and to be assertive about their boundaries.  They also provided a definition of consent, which is required at all times: a clear and freely given “yes,” not just the absence of a “no.” Those who are incapacitated by alcohol or drugs cannot give consent.

In the second incident, a student was asleep in their dorm room when an acquaintance snuck in and committed the assault.  In this report, the Wisc Alert made a point to say that sexual assault is never the fault of the victim.  In addition to the previous warnings and tips given in the first report, UWPD added that if saying “no” or “stop” is too hard, consider creating a diversion so you can leave.  They also encouraged bystanders to step in and help or report what they see.

Madison College’s Public Safety Director, Jim Bottoni had some words of advice for students as well as a reminder of services available at Madison College.

“When you go out, (there are) very simple things.  Try not to go out alone, know where you’re going.  Right? I mean, everybody goes to parties, everybody does these things. Have a plan in place, know how you’re going to get home,” said Bottoni.  “A lot of students will walk just like my daughter walks, but again like I always tell her, try to stay in areas that are well lit, try to stay in areas that are well traveled.  Don’t do the short cut thing…Stay where it is likely that someone is going to see you if you have to walk alone.  We don’t encourage people to walk alone but again, I know that it’s going to happen, just like I don’t encourage students to walk with people they don’t know.”

Madison, like any metropolitan area has good and bad sections of town, but Bottoni says in situations like these, it’s important to remain calm and think through your options.

“Madison is a relatively safe city. People should not be afraid to do things in Madison.  There are a lot of things to do in Madison and everyone should take advantage of those and not be afraid of those. Just be smart about it,” said Bottoni.

As far as getting home, students should remember to walk with confidence and not give off the impression that they are scared or are an easy target.  Our Public Safety office offers an escort program to students on campus who feel uneasy about walking to or from their car.  The service is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  To get picked up or dropped off just call Public Safety at (608) 246-6932 during business hours or (608) 245-2222 after hours.

If a situation like this does happen, Bottoni urges students to report it no matter what, and the sooner the better.
“It does need to be reported.  Whether it is a force, not forced situation, any time a student, and traditionally, it can happen with males, its females who feel like ‘I didn’t want this to happen, this is wrong,’ needs to be reported, immediately to the police, reported immediately to us.  If you report it immediately to us we will contact the police with you,” said Bottoni.  “Have fun when you’re here, be smart about it and if you have any questions please ask.  Use our services, don’t be afraid to call us and don’t be afraid to report things to us.”

To contact Public Safety visit their office located in room B1240 in the Truax campus or visit their website at For non-emergency situations or questions call (608) 246-6932 which is answered during normal business hours, Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. For emergencies call (608) 245-2222 which is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.