Campus Safety circulates Clery Report after assault


Campus Safety responded to the dorm assault by circulating a Clery Report.

Julia Anderson

On Tuesday, Nov. 27, all Grinnell College students, faculty and staff received an email notice of a burglary and assault that occurred on campus over the weekend. James Shropshire, Director of Campus Safety, sent a campus-wide email in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, which requires colleges and universities to disclose statistics on crime to their community.

According to the alert, the incident happened during the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 25, and was reported at 11 a.m. that same day. It informed students that an unknown male had entered the victim’s dorm room and assaulted them before fleeing.

Campus Safety waited two days before alerting the campus of the incident. However, the assault gained attention prior to the email alert when Andrea Baumgartel ’19 posted on the Facebook group Current Grinnell Students 2018-2019 on behalf of the attack victim. Baumgartel’s message, posted in the afternoon of November 25, explained what had happened and urged group members to lock their doors and spreading the word to other students.

“I wrote my post after my friend asked me to do so, because they essentially wanted other people, particularly women and non-binary and gender non-conforming people to know what happened, as the assailant is unidentified and likely another student, definitely male and probably still on or around campus,” said Baumgartel.

One of the requirements of the Clery Act is for colleges and universities to send out a Timely Warning to students and staff, depending on the crime as well as the potential danger it may pose to others.

Although a Timely Warning was eventually sent to the campus, there was initially some doubt from students that an alert about this specific incident would occur at all.

“The post I wrote was after hearing what Grinnell Police Department said about Clery alerts during questioning. After being asked whether they knew if the school would or could send out a Clery alert, the police said that would be unlikely, because ‘people get overly upset, riled up, react very strongly when things like this go out.’ They emphasized that Clery alerts are within the school’s purview, but nonetheless seemed doubtful that there’d be a Clery alert for this,” Baumgartel said.

Regarding the two days that passed between the assault and the alert, Campus Safety explained that they frequently must review cases and consult before sending out an alert to the campus community.

“Each criminal incident that might be eligible for an issuance of a Timely Warning might vary slightly in the time needed to assess, consult and prepare a warning. The criminal incident occurring does not automatically require an issuance of a Timely Warning,” wrote Shropshire in an email to The S&B. “The second component to meet the requirement of issuing a Timely Warning is the assessment of the whether the criminal incident represents a serious or continued threat to the campus community. This assessment may require consultation with other offices and departments, subject matter experts and local law enforcement. Finally, and equally as important, ensuring that the communication is accurate, provides the necessary information, and includes strategies that our community could utilize to enhance their personal safety relational to the crime that occurred.”

Following this assault, Campus Safety will focus on enhancing their presence, especially through focused patrols of residential areas, to deter any future, similar crime. They are also looking to develop and deploy crime prevention programming and resources in the coming weeks. In the long term, the potential to evaluate safety and security equipment, such as installing cameras in the loggias and entrances and exits of residence halls is a possible option.

Campus Safety responded to the dorm assault by circulating a Clery Report.