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Officials plan to promote safety

Following two recent attacks near Grounds, members of the University community said they are working together to create a safer living environment and to prevent further sexual assaults.

An armed burglary and rape occurred Thursday in the Venable neighborhood and an attempted sexual assault took place Monday in Azalea Park (see related stories, A1). While a suspect was arrested in connection with Monday's attack, last Thursday's assailant remains at large.

Leonard Sandridge, executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the University is continuing its efforts to prevent attacks.

"We should not just worry when an incident has occurred but make [safety] an every day, ongoing part of University life," Sandridge said.

In addition to maintaining lighted walkways and emergency phones, University officials are considering building a pedestrian bridge across Emmet Street into the Lambeth Field area as part of the long term Grounds Walk project, he said.

As a result of the recent attacks, the Inter-Fraternity Council now is planning a safety education program and will conduct regular safety checks on fraternity houses.

"For students to feel safe now we need to see immediate progress," IFC President Wes Kaupinen said.

"We think a combination of educating fraternity and sorority members on personal safety as well as checking the physical safety of our houses will create a safer community," Kaupinen said.

Several other student groups are promoting increased safety as well.

Student Council may look into having another bridge built over the railroad tracks in the Beta Bridge and Lambeth Field area, said Brock Jolly, Student Council vice president for administration.

Members of the Council's Safety Concerns Committee - formed this summer - also hope to receive feedback from students concerning areas they feel are unsafe.

"We want to find out from students what concerns they have and react from there," Committee Chairwoman Letty Lau said.

Residents of the Venable neighborhood said they hope to work with University officials to increase community-wide safety.

"The incidents that have happened over the last couple of years really threaten our sense of community," Venable Neighborhood Association President Kevin O'Halloran said. "We hope to have some sort of cooperative response to make our streets safer."

Asst. Dean of Students Aaron Laushway said the focus on safety must continue throughout the year.

"Any attention to security measures is a positive step, but the attention needs to be ongoing," Laushway said. "It can't just be sporadic."

The University does have resources for victims of assault.

If sexual assaults do occur, counselors at the Women's Center are prepared to help students deal with safety concerns.

"We are training our counselors to be up to date on how to handle certain situations," said Mark Woodford, coordinator of counseling services at the Center.

"We hope students are aware they can receive counseling whether they were directly or indirectly affected" by the incidents, counseling services staff member Suzanne Lamar said.