A female student is walking up the stairs of Canyons Hall, like many students do, as someone video tapes up her skirt—but this isn’t the only video.
After emails sent from the college, students at College of the Canyons are becoming more aware of the predators who lurk on their campuses.
On September 28, students were sent an email from COC about “two recent incidents related to safety on campus.”
The first concerned the shooting of upskirt videos of females at the Valencia campus and the posting of them online.
“There were eight videos around campus,” Eric Harnish, COC’s vice president of public information said. “We received an anonymous tip through the campus safety online form.”
These videos were posted on an anonymous website and flagged by a man on the East Coast whose friend was a victim of a similar crime. This man now looks for videos like these to report them. He identified Canyons Hall in one of the videos and reported it to Campus Safety.
Despite being sent to the SCV Sheriff’s Station, the videos have possibly not been taken down and the creator of the video has not been apprehended.
The second situation involved two women following a student at the Canyon Country campus, trying to coerce her into coming with them to review Bible verses about “God the Mother.”
The women continued to follow the student through campus even after she continually denied their requests.
Then on October 19, COC emailed about another incident where a young man was using the men’s restroom in the Student Center when another man in the next stall “reached under the partition, stroked his leg and made suggestive comments.”
The suspect is a Caucasian male and the SCV Sheriff’s Station was notified.
According to The Jeanne Clery Annual Disclosure Report provided every year on COC’s website, on COC’s Valencia Campus there was one report of rape and one report of stalking in 2017, as well as two reports of fondling in 2016.
The stalking victim is a senior at Academy of the Canyons Middle College High School Summer Brashear.
“There was this older gentleman and I didn’t notice him until after class on the first day,” Brashear said. “He followed me from Coffee Kiosk to the school parking lot and he would not leave until he had my number.”
Brashear was 15 and in her sophomore year at Academy of the Canyons, the high school attached to the University Center where students can take college classes while earning their high school diploma.
The man was a student enrolled in her psychology 101 class and claimed he wanted her number for class notes and future class purposes.
“I was wearing these leggings, and he kept looking at me up and down,” Brashear said. “I didn’t realize at the time he was checking out my butt. He wouldn’t leave me alone, so I gave him my number.”
“He used to text me and ask me to hang out, and I would say ‘no’. It was a little bit awkward,” Brashear continued. “I clearly gave him the hint that I was not into him.”
As the semester progressed, Brashear began to notice the man would place fidget spinners on her desk and eventually put a naked Barbie doll there, as well.
“It made me uncomfortable to the point that I would cry and would hide in the bathroom because I wasn’t sure how to react,” Brashear said. “So I stopped showing up to class because it was interfering with my capability to focus during lecture because I would be so paranoid that he would make a remark or that he would keep looking up and down at my body.”
Brashear eventually reported the problem to the Academy of the Canyons principal Dr. Pete Getz and together they filed a report under “stalking” to the Campus Safety Office.
“I don’t know what exactly happened, but I do know that he’s not allowed to be at COC anymore,” Brashear said.
Cases like Brashear’s are a common find on college campuses, but most go unreported due to fear of escalation, not wanting to get the perpetrator in trouble or the belief that it is not important enough to report, according to campus sexual violence statistics from the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Those same statistics suggest that 4.2 percent of students have experienced stalking since entering college and that among undergraduate students: 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.
So, how can you stay safe on campus?
“Use common sense,” suggested Harnish.
This includes being aware of your surroundings, noticing how close in distance people are to you, traveling in groups, using COC’s escort service and relying on campus safety for help.
As for what COC is doing to keep its students safe, “A change is coming,” Harnish confirmed, though without offering details.
For an open campus that sees roughly 32,000 students a year, safety measures are difficult to implement and enforce.
There are security cameras on the campuses, but in situations like the upskirt videos, the cameras did not catch the culprit.
In spring of 2018, the idea of campus safety becoming armed was seriously considered after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida. But after multiple open discussions, no decision has been made.
Campus Safety’s phone number is (661)-362-3229 and crime tips can be reported online through the “We Care” Tip Form on the COC Campus Safety homepage. To request a Campus Escort, dial 0 from any on-campus phone.