University of Delaware Police are stepping up patrols in light of an attempted sexual assault that occurred on campus early Thursday morning.
The incident happened between 12:30 and 1:30 a.m. south of Smyth Hall near the construction site where crews are building a new dorm complex. Police Chief Patrick Ogden said the student was walking on a path that leads from The Green to Academy Street.
The student told police that a man grabbed her, shoved her to the ground and attempted to remove her pants.
However, she was able to run away after kicking the perpetrator in the groin, Ogden said. The student reported the incident later in the day Thursday, and officials in turn emailed an alert to students late Thursday night.
The suspect is described as a 6-foot-tall man with an average build. He was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt.
Ogden said police believe it was a random attack, and the victim did not know the perpetrator.
“UD is a relatively safe place, but we live in a society where crime can happen anywhere and to anyone,” he said.
He said police will increase driving, biking and walking patrols on campus and are searching through archived surveillance footage from UD’s 400 cameras in an attempt to find an image of the suspect.
Ogden said students should stay alert, trust their instincts, walk with confidence, use well-lit paths and travel in groups whenever possible. In addition, anyone who sees anything or anyone suspicious should call 911.
He emphasized that students, faculty and staff who feel unsafe walking around can use UD’s free walking escort service, in which student cadets work in pairs to safely escort people across campus. The cadets also perform foot patrols of residential areas of campus.
Ogden said UDPD also offers the LiveSafe smartphone app, which lets students text tips and photos to police.
Another feature of the app is a peer-to-peer location monitoring and group-chat feature called SafeWalk.
Users share their location with friends and family in their contacts, and LiveSafe sends out a message, alerting those people that the user is about to walk to a new location. By following a link in the message, the recipients can then track the user on a map to make sure they make it safely to their destination.
“The safety of the community is the university’s top priority,” Ogden said. “We’re taking this very seriously and we’re doing everything we can to resolve it.”