Unseemly behavior toward joggers not uncommon
A couple years ago at Augustana, a man made a habit of running behind female joggers, according to Director of Campus Safety Rick Tupper. That man ran with no clothes on.
This is to say that Campus Safety’s recent email about a man videotaping a female jogger from his car on campus shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. It was the third report of similar behavior relayed to Campus Safety this semester.
The lesson, according to Tupper: Be aware of your surroundings while running around-and-near campus.
“The one thing about Sioux Falls is Sioux Falls is generally a pretty safe community, but that doesn’t mean that bad things don’t happen,” Tupper said.
The recent Campus Safety notice highlighted four steps students should take when jogging to minimize their chance of an incident. Among them is the idea of not wearing two earbuds, which can make runners less aware of sounds around them.
Senior Maria Lavelle said she will no longer wear two earbuds during her early-morning runs.
“That’s one thing I’m going to change now, actually, because I never thought about that,” Lavelle said. “Even just for traffic, too.”
Lavelle said she knew someone who experienced an incident while running last year but had forgotten about it before the recent email. Her friend had been running a few blocks from campus when a man followed her and encouraged her to get in his van.
Lavelle said she avoids dark streets and runs early in the morning to steer clear of “creeps.” She said her tactics have proven effective—she has had no run-ins with perverts.
Tupper said neither strategy is foolproof, however. For instance, the naked man referenced previously was chasing students between 5 and 6 a.m.—even on cold mornings.
“Time of day doesn’t really matter,” Tupper said. He added that, on nice days, more men show up because more runners are likely to be outside.
As freshman Kristina Ritschard gets back into running (she had been dealing with an injury), she will avoid running by herself, precisely because of the recent email.
“I’ve been asking people to see if I can have someone to go with me,” Ritschard said. “I think one of my friends will. I’m fine with running by myself if I have to, but I prefer to have someone with me.”
She added that her relative unfamiliarity with the area also convinced her to run with a friend.
The perpetrator from the October email could return, but he will have been penalized for his previous actions. He was caught because the runner could describe him, along with the license plate number of his car, according to Tupper, who praised her quick-thinking.
“Ultimately, the police will issue warrants for his arrest,” Tupper said. “He’ll get charged with a misdemeanor, it’s normally an indecent exposure-type misdemeanor.”
Tupper described him as a 23-year-old male non-student who works in Sioux Falls. Upon interviewing him, Tupper learned the following:
“He knows that there’s young women on this campus, so he said he’s been doing this for a while. He comes to the campus, he picks out young, athletic-looking women that are out jogging that attract him. He follows them, he then masturbates while he’s following them, and he says that sometimes ‘I’ll try to get them to come over to the car to watch me,’ and he said ‘I’ll videotape them to get their expression once they see me exposed, masturbaing.’”
Tupper said his goal was not to use these incidents as scare tactics, but rather to remind people that not everyone on campus has good intentions. (The Clery Act mandates that groups like Campus Safety report incidents which could affect the actions of others, called a “timely warning requirement.”)
Tupper added that he wants Augustana to be an open and inviting campus, but that if anyone has the slightest inclination that someone is behaving in an out-of-the-ordinary way—both on campus and in any area that could affect students—he wants to hear about it.
“Just let us know,” Tupper said. “I don’t care how minor it is. If it turns out to be nothing, I hope it turns out to be nothing, but if it turns out to be something that we can make a difference (on), then we’re going to address it. You’re helping everybody out that way.”