Over the weekend, a female University of California, Santa Barbara student was beaten and raped by three men. Her rape was the second of that weekend and the second gang rape of a UCSB student in two months.
In January, three young men were arrested for raping a UCSB student on the street. The men had just been identified for shoplifting from a local store that same evening. On Saturday, a different set of men attacked another young woman in the same neighborhood of Isla Vista, which surrounds the UCSB community. Because the victim was so disoriented, police are unsure exactly where her attack occurred or exactly what the men looked like. The night prior to this second gang rape, a third young woman was raped outside a party by an identified man.
According to CBS 2, the University has sent out texts to students letting them know about the most recent gang assault and warning them to be on alert. Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover said that while "reports of sexual assaults in Isla Vista are not uncommon ... this is definitely an extreme case."
"The incident underscores the importance of not walking alone, especially at night, and to do everything in your power not to put yourself in a situation where you could become a victim," she added.
While there's no indication yet that these three incidents are related (or that they have been perpetrated by students at the college), their confluence has shaken the UCSB community. Some are using the assaults as an opportunity to shine a light on how the University handles sexual assault, according to the Daily Nexus, UCSB's independent student-run paper. Kelty Kauffman, Co-Chair of Take Back the Night at UCSB, told the paper that the school and local police could do a better job of protecting students.
"Currently, we enforce a culture of violence," Kauffman said. "I have heard personal accounts of the police in Isla Vista not taking rape allegations seriously here and being condescending or dismissive of survivors, and that continues to contribute to a culture that tell survivors not to come forward with their stories and allows rapists to go free."
UCSB officials say they're handling the attacks. In a statement, they said they had increased campus police presence on campus and in the area. Additionally:
The University has robust education and prevention programs to raise community awareness about sexual assault. The University's CSO Escort Program also provides courtesy escorts for students and community members traveling on campus and in Isla Vista during nighttime hours. We will work with our students, faculty and staff through training, prevention and support programs to continue to raise awareness about sexual assault.
In unrelated news (or related, if you're considering sending your child to UCSB and care about lists), UCSB was just ranked the number two party school in the country by The Princeton Review, a bump up from the spot they held last year at number eight. The school was also named one of the Best Western Colleges and one of the Best Value Colleges in the country.
Image via Ryosuke Yagi/Flickr