GV waits to inform students of sexual assault

Audra Gamble

Originally published 9/15/14

A Grand Valley State University student was raped in her apartment on Sunday, Sept. 7 just before 4 a.m. The student’s apartment in Country Place Apartments was broken into, and then the student was sexually assaulted.

Though the GVSU student reported the incident to the police directly after it happened, GVSU students were not notified of the assault until Thursday afternoon, nearly five days later.

The sexual assault took place off campus, and as such, the investigation is under the jurisdiction of Ottawa County police, rather than the Grand Valley Police Department.

However, GVPD says they are doing all they can to assist with the investigation.

“We work with the sheriff’s department often involving Grand Valley students and non-students as well,” said GVPD Capt. Brandon DeHaan. “If it’s on our campus or around the area, we’ll assist them.”

While the safety notice was not sent out through GVPD, DeHaan said that his officers are aware of the situation.

“Our officers have been made aware of this, but at this point in time, our officers are on patrol and we ask our officers and students to be aware,” DeHaan said. “Crime can happen any place. It’s one of those situations that we’re always trying to stay aware.”

While DeHaan and other GVPD officers had to defer to the Ottawa County police, some students were unhappy with the slow response from the university. Members of the student organization Eyes Wide Open posted about the incident on social media on Wednesday evening.

In addition, Andrew Brown, a GVSU student, contacted FOX 17 about the lack of communication between the university and its students.

“There was a rape that happened, and (multiple) days later the university hadn’t told us that there was a rapist in Allendale,” Brown said. “They broke in to (the student’s) house. This is an issue of social justice and this isn’t the first time we had issues of women and sexual assault at Grand Valley.”

While GVPD made it clear that they had to follow Ottawa County police in this incident, Brown felt GVPD could have done more.

“I wish they had notified students,” Brown said. “If it’s OK for GVPD to hand out MIPs, then they can do their best to keep students safe and notify us. Even if it’s an ongoing investigation, they need to say ‘this crime has been reported and it’s true. Here are the steps you can do to keep yourself safe.’ No excuse for Grand Valley to say that they needed to wait for Ottawa County.”