Nov 162004
 
Authors: Jennifer Johnson

 

The Office of Women's Studies and Programs is located in Room 112 of the Student Services Building; Students can also call 491-6384 to schedule a confidential appointment.

The University Counseling Center is located in the basement of the Clark Building Room C-36, or students can call 491-6053 to set up an appointment.

The CSU Police Department is located in Green Hall and can be contacted at 491-6425.The Safe Walk Program Web site is www.colostate.edu/Depts/CSUPD/safewalk.html, and students should call 491-1155 to contact a Campus Service Officer for assistance.

More than one in four college students has been a victim of stalking.

Stalking – unwanted attention from a person who may intend to harm – is more common than many may realize. Research in a CSU Campus Crime Prevention Committee pamphlet has indicated that between one-quarter and one-third of college students have been stalked.

Studies show 200,000 people in the United States are stalking someone and one in 20 adults will be stalked in their lifetime, according to the pamphlet. Stalking is a felony in Colorado.

"It is definitely important for everyone, especially students, to be aware of the harmful effects stalking causes," said Jody Jessup Anger, interim director of the Office of Women's Programs and Studies.

Jessup Anger said stalking is not only a problem nationally but it is also becoming an increasing interpersonal problem for many students at CSU.

"We see many students each semester regarding issues such as stalking," she said. "As with any college campus, (CSU) is not immune to stalking, especially with the rise of technology."

The Internet is one way for someone to retrieve information about another person. CSU's student directory, for example, enables anyone to find out where a student lives and how the student may be contacted.

"It is a good idea for students to take their information off of the student directory in order to help prevent a stalking situation from occurring," Jessup Anger said.

Jessup Anger believes college students may be at a greater risk for stalking because they may live in close proximity to campuses, engage in more day-to-day interaction and transition from relationships more frequently than other age groups.

Although there are many common characteristics of a stalker, including jealousy, obsessive-compulsive disorder and control issues, Jessup Anger feels the most common characteristics are that they are unable to identify boundaries and do not have an understanding of rejection.

"It doesn't matter what the victim says or does to try to get the person to stop harassing them, the stalker does not have any sense of rejection, or the word 'no,'" she said.

Although many may feel the initial problems of stalking are minor, the frequency of stalking behavior may escalate and become more problematic over time.

"Students may try to stop the situation by themselves, but it is most likely to become more severe," Jessup Anger said. "If a student believes that they are being stalked, they need to speak with either the police department, or someone at the Office of Women's Programs and Studies as soon as possible."

The Office of Women's Programs and Studies helps students deal with stalking situations in four steps.

"First, we educate the victim on stalking, then we assess their situation by trying to get a better insight into the behavior of the stalker. After we have a better understanding of the situation, we can then connect with the appropriate resources and then begin safety planning, in which we help the victim feel safer at home, school and in the community," Jessup Anger said.

Lt. Karl Swenson of CSU Police Department said there are typically five to six serious ongoing stalking cases at any point in time, and these rates have increased over the past few years.

"We probably see about 10 to 12 students a year regarding this issue," he said.

"A student typically comes in with concerns that another person is messing with them and they either don't know who the perpetrator is, or it ends up being an ex-boyfriend or ex-spouse."

Although Swenson feels CSU is a relatively safe campus, he said the issue of stalking is still a major concern.

"It is important to get a handle on the situation right away," he said. "The faster a person can be charged for this issue, the faster we can get them into counseling."

The University Counseling Center helps stalking victims cope with the situation and counsels those who feel they themselves may be a stalker.

"We see students who are victims of stalking and we are also available to help students who believe they are too obsessed with someone else and want help letting go," said Susan MacQuiddy, a psychologist at the UCC.

MacQuiddy said obsessive behavior is often related to a person's own relationship history.

"Many students facing this type of problem are referred to seek counseling at the UCC by a friend, family, the Office of Women's Programs and Studies, or the CSUPD," said Jackie Nguyen, a senior staff counselor at the UCC.

Nguyen said it is rare for stalkers to come to the UCC for help, but they are often referred for treatment because of their behavior.

"We work with victims by helping them to cope more effectively and to seek appropriate campus and community services," Nguyen said.

She said some of these services are the Stress Management Program, the Office of Women's Programs and Studies, the CSUPD, Student Legal Services or Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services."

CSU also offers the SafeWalk Program for students if they feel uncomfortable walking around campus alone.

Students can contact the University Police Department for a SafeWalk escort to and from any location within a two-block radius on campus.

"Although there is no way to prevent a stalking situation from occurring, students need to be aware of this issue and know how to recognize it," Jessup Anger said. "If a student feels they are being stalked, even if it seems minor, they need to let someone know."

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