By Sarah Carlson, Copy Editor
A timely warning e-mail was sent to students Sept. 17 after a female student was alarmed by two males in a vehicle while walking alone on East North 16th Street at 9:35 p.m.
The warning, sent by Dr. Wayne Barnard, dean of Campus Life, and Jimmy Ellison, chief of ACU Police, said the males pulled their vehicle up beside the female and initiated conversation with her, eventually trying to lure her into the car. She then backed away, and when she did, the men immediately pulled away, and the girl notified Sikes Hall personnel and the ACU Police, according to the e-mail.
“It alarmed her simply because of the time of night,” Ellison said. He said because the intentions of the men were not specifically known, he along with Barnard felt obligated to warn the student body.
“I would rather be safe than sorry,” Barnard said. “You don’t want to be paranoid, but it’s good to be aware. Early in the semester is a good time for people to have a little dose of awareness.”
Ellison said the men were probably itinerant, or traveling, vendors and might have been only looking to sell perfume as they had told the girl. He said he has received information from other students that they saw the same vendors in the United Supermarket parking lot and a gas station parking lot. He said he wants students to be wary of these vendors, even though their actions were not criminal and the men may not be harmful.
Timely warnings are generally sent out three to four times a year and are for matters that cause reasonable amount of concern or alarm, Ellison said. He said they are not meant to scare students, or annoy them for that matter.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is that we are required by law to make the campus aware of crimes that pose a potential risk to students,” Ellison said.
Barnard said the situation probably didn’t warrant a timely warning, according to the standards set for the warnings by himself and Ellison, but he does not regret sending the e-mail.
Ellison said his goal is to make the campus informed, aware and safe. He said students should always walk or jog in pairs, especially at night. Barnard recommends female students carry their whistles with them when running around the campus and should take advantage of the safety shuttle, a golf cart that drives students around campus at night. Students should also be aware of traffic and cars near them, and should not get too close to a car, even if it is someone asking for directions, Ellison said.
“I want to make sure this campus is as safe as it can be,” Ellison said. “I think it is the responsible thing to do, I think the parents expect it and I think students deserve it.”
He said it is easy for people to be critical about warnings like the one sent out, but that will not stop him from informing the university.
“I would rather explain to one sore-head why I’m distributing information that is not really information you want in slick brochures,” Ellison said, “than explain to one mother or father whose daughter’s been raped or murdered why I had information and didn’t distribute it.”