CofC students taking safety matters into their own hands after assaults

Drawing of the suspect.
Drawing of the suspect.

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Police are still looking for the suspect linked to the three assaults in Downtown Charleston last week.

Three women, two of whom are College of Charleston, were assaulted late at night on Bull, Pitt and Vanderhorst streets. Police reports say three women were struck in the face and one was sexually assaulted. It all happened just blocks from College of Charleston's campus.

"These aren't areas that are supposed to be bad areas," said student Katie Ricart.

Police are still looking for a suspect accused of the three assaults. Until he's caught, some students are taking matters into their own hands.

"It's raised awareness on our whole campus that everyone needs to stay safe," says Isiah Nelson.

Nelson, who is the student body president at the College of Charleston, says students can't rely on police alone to keep them safe.

"As soon as the sun goes down I've been getting sketched out," said student Sarah Miller.

Miller, who lives a block away from where the assaults happened, says her friends are keeping an extra eye out for each other.

"We just want to get a band of friends together and stake out on the streets to make sure girls get home safely," she said.

Nelson says the student government association is raising awareness about safety.

The College of Charleston has several programs that can help students stay out of dangerous situations like walking home alone. The cougar shuttle, a free transportation service, runs from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. All students have to do is call and they can get a free ride wherever on the peninsula.

Another option is the pal program, which was started by students. A group of students patrol up and down King Street, especially upper King, which is a popular late night spot for students. The group walks people home or makes sure they get a ride safely.

Student body president Isaiah Nelson says the school's Student Government Association is making sure others are aware of the dangers of walking alone at night.

"Student government is going around and talking to all student organizations and giving safety tips so everyone knows what to do when you're out," Nelson said. "Especially if you're with a girl and they may be vulnerable because they're had too much to drink."

Other tips would be walking in groups and never alone at night. If you have to walk alone, call someone on your cell phone.

You also want to make sure you have the phone numbers for the transportation and safety programs like the cougar shuttle in your phone and take advantage of them when possible.

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