Chico State’s poor protocol

A stranger rape at Chico State went largely unreported

When CN&R learned about a stranger rape on the Chico State campus, we didn’t hear about it from the University Police Department or from the university’s Public Affairs & Publications Department. Nope, one of our reporters found out about it from a short blurb in the student newspaper, which distributes a couple thousand copies each week, primarily at the school and in student-centric locales.

That assault took place during the penultimate week of the spring semester, near the Student Health Center and Nettleton Stadium (see “Under the radar,” by Ken Smith, page 9). That region is a notorious cut-through for students headed downtown to the bars or parties in the south campus neighborhood and back again to housing near Nord Avenue and other parts of the west side.

Students, faculty and staff were warned about the attack via email the day after the victim reported it to authorities, as is university protocol. (The warning, written by UPD’s interim police chief and sent out by Public Affairs, included a description of the attacker.) However, that’s as far as the warning went. And by not sharing the information with the local media and thus the greater community, it didn’t get the attention such a violent crime would ordinarily trigger.

That’s a disservice to public safety in general.

After all, this area of campus isn’t traveled exclusively by members of the university community. High school kids and other residents use it as a shortcut, too. But, again, it’s unlikely they heard anything about the rape. Neither UPD’s nor Public Affairs’ webpages offer any info on the crime.

We’ve been critical of the Chico Police Department and its leadership over the years, but we do appreciate that the city police send out regular press releases to all local media warning residents of violent assaults and other noteworthy crimes. It’s a public-safety service and one that the campus should adopt immediately.