When I was a senior in college, another student told me about a disturbing incident involving her roommate, a story I never forgot. One night, while alone in the women’s restroom, Jessica (not her real name) was startled when a group of male students walked into the room. At first she thought it was a mistake and was embarrassed. But only when they continued to walk towards her did she realize that they had intended to come in, perhaps had even followed her as she approached the bathroom with her shower gear. She tried to fight them off as best she could, using the techniques they’d taught her during that one hour in freshman orientation. But to no avail. Before she knew it, they were all around her, groping her as she tried to twist away.
The incident lasted all of several minutes. They left quickly, leaving Jessica sobbing on the bathroom floor. Once an outgoing honors students, Jessica stopped going to classes and was soon in danger of failing her classes. The trauma from that incident almost ruined her – both emotionally and academically. My classmate never told me the remaining details– whether or not Jessica decided to report the incident or if she chose to deal with it on her own – but I remember shivering and thinking to myself ‘Maybe being a commuter student is not so bad after all.’