Campus / Campus Safety / News / January 20, 2010

Student verbally harassed on campus

Senior Caitlin Tegenfeldt was walking in the middle of campus last weekend and saw an unfamiliar man walking two dogs coming towards her on the sidewalk. As she passed him, she looked up, smiled, and said “hi.” He smiled back.

This may not seem like an abnormal interaction, but considering that Tegenfeldt was verbally attacked by a group of men while walking on campus only days before, the exchange seemed comforting.

“It was really reassuring to me,” said Tegenfeldt. “[Galesburg residents] aren’t all bad. It’s just a few people.”

Last Thursday evening, Tegenfeldt was walking on the sidewalk behind her residence hall, Hamblin Hall, heading toward the cafeteria when she was confronted by a group of about four men wearing hooded sweatshirts.

“These guys started screaming obscenities at me,” said Tegenfeldt. “I wasn’t expecting anything because it was early on in the evening. It took me off-guard. I just kept walking.”

A similar incident happened to her during her freshman year, though at the time she did not report it.

Tegenfeldt was unnerved by the incident, as the men’s words and phrases were wrought with offensive innuendo.

“Everyone has people honk at them and people say things to them, but this time the language was more aggressive,” said Tegenfeldt. If the men were comfortable enough to verbally assault her, Tegenfeldt said, then they could be on the verge of doing something else.

While passing the men, Tegenfeldt ignored them and kept walking. She was not physically harmed, but she still called campus safety and talked with them after she ate her dinner. They talked with her about the incident, which was calming.

“It felt silly to call campus safety,” said Tegenfeldt. “But then, it’s good for them to know [the attackers] are around campus.”

This incident occurred hours before an armed robbery on the opposite end of campus. These incidences are not necessarily related, but in both occurrences members of the community came onto campus and harassed students.

Though initially shaken, Tegenfeldt said that the incident has not changed her behavior very much. She tries to travel around campus with others now, but that is not always possible. She refuses to let this incident take away her independence, though she tries to comply with safety measures to prevent it from happening again.

Laura Miller

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