Dorm ‘thefts’ promote safety

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    By REBECCA SHAW

    Over 1,500 “robberies” were reported by Deseret Towers, Helaman Halls and Heritage Halls.

    From Feb. 24 to March 1, several on-campus residents returned to their unlocked or open rooms to “You’ve just been robbed!” signs.

    Fortunately, the amateur thieves were dorm-floor presidents responsible for “promoting security in the halls,” said Helaman Halls Activity Council member Mindy Perkins, a freshman from San Diego majoring in family science.

    Though BYU’s Housing Services had already implemented campus precautions, “Project Protect” was BYU’s Residence Halls Association’s first official campaign.

    “People assume that we’re safe just because we live in Happy Valley, but they are sadly mistaken,” Perkins said.

    RHA President Heather Scott, a junior from Jacksonville, N.C. majoring in math education, said RHA’s Executive Council felt BYU students’ false sense of security made them do things they wouldn’t normally do at other colleges.

    Julie Franklin, assistant Director of Housing Services and RHA Advisor, said “Project Protect” was created to “heighten student awareness about unsafe campus situations.”

    On-campus residents who made it through the week without a single “theft” were invited to “Apollo 13” Wednesday in the Joseph Smith Building auditorium. RHA also offered on-campus residents chain necklaces to secure keys.

    In addition to educating students about the importance of locked doors, Officer Wayne Beck said the university police looked for opportunities to spread a rape-preventive message. Beck, director of crime prevention, works with BYU’s Rape Aggression Defense Director Dave Adams. “Project Protect” also sponsored a R.A.D. lecture Wednesday in Heritage Halls’ Central Building.

    Statistics show one rape is committed every 21 hours on a U.S. college campus. Despite the national average, only one of 10 rapes are reported. Beck said the low rate makes it difficult to build local defense. A rape-protective technique course, P.E. 115, will be offered solely to female students in Fall Semester 1997.

    “Rape does exist in Utah County, but cultural shunning makes it especially difficult for victims to come forward,” Beck said.

    “Project Protect” culminated with a keynote speaker Thursday in the JSB auditorium. Katie Koestner, a 25-year-old date rape survivor, is also a nationally renowned advocate against the “crime of silence.”

    BYU’s RHA Executive Council first heard Koestner in November 1996. Her powerful story compelled them to solicit a future BYU visit.

    “Though date rape is almost taboo at BYU, I knew the way Katie presented material about the sensitive subject was very appropriate for a BYU audience,” Scott said.

    However, the council was unable to contact Koestner until it was approved by President Bateman. RHA submitted a written proposal which underwent nearly a month of deliberation.

    “I can’t explain to you how excited I was when the administration gave us permission to bring Katie here to speak during `Project Protect,'” Scott said.

    RHA’s Student Action Team Co-President Sam Vincent, a freshman from West Jordan majoring in pre-physical therapy, said RHA hopes “Project Protect” will make a long-term difference at BYU.

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