Mar 092004
 
Authors: Marika Krause

Melissa cannot help but warn women wearing messenger bags draped

across their chest on campus.

“It’s something I never would have paid attention to in a

million years, but when I see girls wearing their bags that way, I

go up and warn them to be aware of their surroundings,” said

Melissa, which is not her real first name, in an e-mail interview.

She asked that her name be withheld from this story.

A week ago Melissa was near the Lory Student Center when a young

man snapped her picture with a digital camera. A few days later the

image, along with those of a dozen other women on campus, was

posted on a Web site.

So far at least four women have been identified by police. Lt.

Karl Swenson said the department is still working on getting the

photographed women’s names. Some of the women were not aware their

picture had been taken.

“Clearly, uniformly, across the board they’ve said that they

would not want their picture on the Web site and did not agree with

it,” Swenson said.

While the pictures are no longer posted on the Web site, for

more than 24 hours last week singlestrap.com featured pictures of

women wearing bags with single straps across their chests.

“Get out your cameras and start snapping shots of any and all

potential ladies. Take ’em during Spring Break, on campus, off

campus, at parties, in bars,” the Web site originally stated.

Police are still investigating the photographer’s identity and

the Web site’s creators.

“Right now we’re still inclined to believe it will be a

university judicial affairs matter rather than criminal

prosecution,” Swenson said.

Although she could not directly comment on the case, Roselyn

Cutler, the associate director of the Office of Equal Opportunity,

said several things could make this a sexual harassment case.

“If it creates an environment where a reasonable student cannot

react well or do well, it may be a case of sexual harassment,”

Cutler said.

Students and the university are responsible for creating an

environment that is not hostile, Cutler said.

“If we see that women began to avoid the student center, or

instead of entering the front entrance, they detour and go around

back,” Cutler said. “(If) it really made an impact on the decisions

they made, it could be considered the sexualization of the

environment – a hostile environment,”

Culter said she would need to look at the specifics of this case

to comment any further.

Students just finding out about the Web site were concerned.

“I think it’s pretty ridiculous that women have to think of

every step we take just because you don’t know what (a) predator is

out there trying to do,” said junior speech communication major

Noma Sibanda, who carries a messenger bag to campus.

Ben Brown, a sophomore consumer and family studies major, said

the situation is unfortunate.

” I think it’s pretty messed up,” he said. “It really comes down

to the decision a girl makes when she wakes up in the morning and

decides what to wear, but at the same time she shouldn’t have to

base what she wears off of a pervert. It’s a balance.”

Police are not advising women to change their behavior or change

the way they wear their backpacks.

“I think the inappropriate action is on the part of the

perpetrator and his interactions,” Swenson said. “I think he needs

to get legal releases before he takes pictures or stop taking

them.”

The CSU Police Department is asking any students who think they

may have been on the Web site or photographed to immediately

contact Lt. Karl Swenson at 970-491-6245.

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