Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman students harassed on Isaacs, Boyer

Credit: Johnson
Credit: Johnson
Sophomore Gia Anastasiou and first-year Julia Bowman were walking down Boyer Avenue toward Reid at 8 p.m. on Oct. 17 when, practically out of nowhere, a man on a bike bumped into them and pulled Anastasiou’s purse from her hand.   The pair chased after the thief but couldn’t keep up. Anastasiou called the police, who arrived within minutes, but they have yet to recover her purse or any of its contents.

Anastasiou emphasized that they were especially vulnerable because it was only the two of them.

“We went to sushi Friday night and we actually were supposed to go with a group of people. I feel like if we had been a big group we wouldn’t have been targets but because it was the two of us we were,” she said.

Though cases of bike and laptop theft are fairly common: according to the Whitman College daily crime log,  nine cases of theft have occurred since the beginning of the year: muggings are more rare and unexpected.

“It’s an eye-opener. I thought we were in a really safe bubble but the outside world can have an impact on us here at Whitman. I’ll be more aware of the people around me and not just assume that everyone is safe,” Bowman said.

Though crimes such as this tend to shock the Whitman community, other security problems arise on a regular basis.   Every weekend, as students party-hop between fraternities and off-campus houses located on Isaacs, interactions between pedestrians and some of the passing traffic rattle nerves and distress students.

Junior Kristine Unkrich recalled a particularly unnerving experience.

“I was crossing Isaacs with a friend and as a car passed me passengers yelled some pretty crude comments,” said Unkrich. “I know this experience was not unique and this happens to a lot of people. If I had been by myself I would have felt very uncomfortable but in that circumstance I was just really annoyed.”

Sometimes street harassment goes beyond verbal intimidation and becomes physical. A group of students, including junior Joanne Yang, were walking to their house on Isaacs when a car drove by. Its passengers leaned out the window and threw an egg at them.

“We were mad so we called the cops and as we were standing outside the house they came back and they threw three or four more eggs at us,” said Yang.

She went on to explain that this incident has had an impact on her habits and what might have been fun for the perpetrators was a frightening experience for her and her friends.

“I have stress because of this. I try to walk far away from the street when I see a close speeding car,” Yang said. “I generally feel safe on campus but it’s creepy by the roads.”

Passengers in cars driving down Isaacs have also been known to throw other items, such as water balloons and beer cans, at students walking in groups or walking alone.

Junior Masud Shah felt angered by his own water balloon encounter.

“I think the worst thing was when I had three cars drive by and the first threw a water balloon that missed and blew up on the ground. The second car had a little better aim and it hit me and exploded on my pants and then the third one just drove by and laughed,” he said.

Shah went on to say that he considered carrying a rock to use for retaliation but realized that would only cause the situation to escalate.

“They’re most likely just high school kids who are bored. I think the main reason is that it’s just fun and it’s something that we’re almost defenseless against,” he said.

Junior Leah Wheeler, who had peaches thrown at her by a neighbor while she was walking home from the library, thinks that students need to realize that Whitman and the surrounding neighborhoods are not as safe as many assume.

“Our campus is open. Many of our academic buildings are open at night and people are not as nice as we may wish they were,” Wheeler stated.

Though some crimes aren’t easily preventable: anyone walking down Isaacs is exposed to the cars driving by: it is important to be aware of surroundings and walk in groups, especially when venturing away from campus at night.

Anastasiou offered some final advice.

“I think the reason it’s probably not very safe is the fact that people are super trusting so they don’t plan for dangerous situations . . . you set yourself up for it by being alone which makes you a target,” said Anastasiou. “Plan out your night ahead of time.”

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