The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Sexual assault reports raise questions about safety on campus

Sexual assault reports raise questions about safety on campus - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Graphic by Sergio Medina

A Texas A&M University-San Antonio student reported being sexually assaulted Sep. 1 in Esperanza Hall, the university’s only dorm.

According to a summary provided by University Police Department Sep. 28, a student resident reported being sexually assaulted by another resident.

The Mesquite filed a records request Sep. 25, but UPD said they are unable to release the full record because it could interfere with the investigation.

Assistant chief Roger Stearns said there were fewer crimes reported at the beginning of this semester compared to fall 2022.

Stearns said UPD wants to remind the A&M-San Antonio community that everyone plays a role in ensuring a safe campus.

“Although this is a positive statistic, it is no guarantee of future activity,” Stearns said. “As a community member, we encourage you to remain aware and immediately report anything suspicious to the campus police.”

Biology freshman Klerissa Lara said she feels safe living on campus.

“Usually, you will see our on-campus police officers driving around or riding a bike around campus,” Lara said.

A&M-San Antonio has UPD officers on patrol during the day and overnight.

“You have to scan a key to get in [to Esperanza Hall],” Lara said. “Our keys only allow us to enter the building as well as go up the elevator.”

Lara said that Esperanza Hall has hosted assault awareness workshops for residents to promote safety.

Officer Karen Tucker-Engel, officer of victim services and crime prevention coordinator, shared some tips from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network:

  • Know your resources. Who should you contact if you or a friend needs help? Where should you go? Locate resources such as A&M-SA PD, and Rape Crisis Center and Title IX. Know where emergency blue phones are located on campus, and program the A&M-SA PD numbers into your cell phone for easy access and download SafeZone App on your phone. 
  • Stay alert. When you’re moving around on campus or in the surrounding neighborhood, be aware of your surroundings. Consider inviting a friend to join you or asking A&M-SA PD for an escort. If you’re alone, only use headphones in one ear to stay aware of your surroundings.
  • Be careful about posting your location. Many social media sites, like Facebook and Foursquare, use geolocation to publicly share your location. Consider disabling this function and reviewing other social media settings.
  • Make others earn your trust. A college environment can foster a false sense of security. They may feel like fast friends, but give people time to earn your trust before relying on them.
  • Think about Plan B. Spend some time thinking about back-up plans for potentially sticky situations. If your phone dies, do you have a few numbers memorized to get help? Do you have emergency cash in case you can’t use a credit card? Do you have the address to your dorm or college memorized? If you drive, is there a spare key hidden, gas in your car, and a set of jumper cables?
  • Be secure. Lock your door and windows when you’re asleep and when you leave the room. If people constantly prop open the main door to the dorm, tell your RA or a trusted authority figure.

According to the Campus Safety Tips, UPD also advises student residents not to prop exterior or room doors open.

Stearns recommends downloading the SafeZone App, a free mobile app for all A&M-San Antonio students, faculty and staff. The app connects users directly to the A&M-San Antonio Police Department  24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Joanna Vela, interim director for the student counseling center, said the center recently launched a “well-being assistance” button on the SafeZone app which connects the campus community to resources for mental health support 24 hours a day and seven days a week as well.

For non-emergency reports, students can also call 210-784-1900 and 210-784-1911 for emergencies. 

UPD will be hosting “Safety Begins With You” at noon on Oct. 18 in Classroom Hall 207. The safety workshop will discuss stalking, sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and crime prevention. For more information and to RSVP, visit JagSync

“Together we can keep our campus a safer community to live, study, work and play with your help,” Stearns said. “If you see something, say something, and we will do something.” 

About the Author

Ashley Khamtrashyan
Assistant Editor
Ashley Khamtrashyan is a communication senior who transferred from Northwest Vista College. She enjoys spending time with her family and traveling. Ashley is also part of the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists. After graduation, in May 2024, she plans to pursue a career in journalism as a reporter.

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