By Courtney Hibler
Some female students at Youngstown State University have said they felt unsafe on campus because of a recurring issue.
Mara McCloud, a senior political science and history major, was in Meshel Hall when she noticed a man following her to the restroom on Sept. 5. When she turned to look at him, she said he fumbled for the water fountain beside the door.
“I really thought nothing of it,” McCloud said. “I believed he just may have been zoned out since it was so early in the morning.”
McCloud waited in the women’s restroom for a few minutes to see if the man would leave.
“As soon as I opened the door I saw him,” McCloud said. “I pretended I was on the phone, so he wouldn’t bother me.”
McCloud said the man followed her around the corner and down the hall. When McCloud entered the staircase, she said she quickly walked down the stairs and made it to her classroom safely.
Jensen McCue, a sophomore political science major, said she also had man wait for her outside of a restroom in DeBartolo Hall.
McCue said during her class she felt uncomfortable for the entirety of the lecture because of another student staring at her.
“When we were dismissed from class I immediately got up and he followed me,” McCue said.
Similar to McCloud, McCue said she decided to wait in the women’s restroom for five minutes to see if the man would leave.
“He was still there and when I walked into the elevator, he immediately followed me inside,” McCue said.
One week later, McCue noticed the man attending another class she is in. She said she now feels as if she is being watched in both of her classes.
YSU Chief of Police Shawn Varso said the YSU Police Department was made aware of the reports through Twitter when McCloud and McCue posted about the incidents.
Varso said he quickly reached out to both students and asked for them to come into the station to provide more information about what happened.
“If anyone encounters a situation like this, the first thing to do is go somewhere safe,” Varso said. “The next thing you should do is call us immediately.”
Shelby Rupert, a junior French major, said she saw the tweets about what occurred and offered to help anyone feeling unsafe on campus.
“When I read this happened to two young ladies, I took it to a personal level,” Rupert said. “It makes me sad to see these occurrences happening increasingly more often around our campus.”
Rupert said she doesn’t want any student to feel unsafe walking around campus and is more than willing to walk students to their classes or cars to make sure they arrive to their destination safely.
“Report what happens, carry pepper spray and anything else that can help you in the long run,” McCue said. “I never felt like I needed anything to protect me until now.”
On Tuesday, Hannah Garner, a junior sports broadcasting major, tweeted that she was followed to her car by a man wearing all black in the Wick parking deck.
“When I realized [someone was following me], I called someone to feel safer and he backed off,” she wrote. “Watch your surroundings and don’t walk alone.”
YSU Student Security Services offers escorts to and from classes for those who may feel unsafe or unsettled on campus. An advanced schedule is able to be arranged at any time by contacting student security services at (330) 941-1515.
McCloud said YSU needs a comforting environment for victims that will encourage those victims to come forward and report their experiences.
“It is a recurring solution deriving in its most basic form of the respect of men and women and their right to not fear for their safety while receiving an education,” McCloud said.
The YSU Police Department can be reached at (330) 941-3527.