Reaction near Thursday's attack: Some U-M students feeling less safe in Ann Arbor
After a series of attacks on young women and assaults on college-aged men in the past month, some University of Michigan students say this summer has caused them to feel less safe in Ann Arbor.
Kiley Goorhouse, a 21-year-old U-M student, said she has been looking at buying mace to carry when she’s walking around town, especially when returning home late at night.
When asked if she feels like this summer has been different than her previous time in Ann Arbor, she said, “I guess it feels that way, just because there have been so many assaults.”
“I’m being a lot more cautious and making sure I’m never by myself,” Goorhouse said.
The latest attack came early Thursday morning when a 21-year-old female U-M student was grabbed on the arm by a stranger on Thompson Street near West Quadrangle.
Both Ann Arbor and University of Michigan police said the attack was unrelated to the previous six attacks on women, which started on July 15. Another attack, an attempted robbery near U-M's Institute for Social Research, resulted in an arrest.
U-M police were still investigating the scene on Thompson Street near West Quad at about 9 a.m. Thursday.
Kyle Feldscher | AnnArbor.com
Diane Brown, spokesperson for the U-M Department of Public Safety, said the department is doing its best to provide students and the university community with information to improve their safety.
Brown said the department has issued emails to students, including a question-and-answer session with interim Chief Joe Piersante, about the assaults and has increased uniformed police patrols around U-M’s Central Campus and the surrounding neighborhoods.
Goorhouse was walking with co-worker and friend Alec Stirton, a 20-year-old U-M student, down South State Street Thursday morning.
Both Stirton and Goorhouse saw the crime alert sent out by the university Thursday notifying students of the incident.
Stirton said he’s walked Goorhouse home on a number of occasions, but he’s also worried about his own safety, especially in the wake of a 22-year-old man being jumped by 8 men on East University Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
“I’m leaving (places) earlier and keeping my guard up while walking home, instead of just walking home aimlessly,” Stirton said, adding that he does his best to not text and walk late at night.
Mark Gruca, a 22-year-old Ann Arbor resident who recently graduated from U-M, said he’s taking a similar strategy to get home quickly at night.
Gruca said he hasn’t done too much to prepare himself against potential attacks, but he’s keeping his guard up after the sun goes down.
“During the day, I feel fine. At night, I’m a little bit more aware,” he said. “It’s more of a straight shot home, taking the lighted streets, don’t walk down dark alleys.”
Gruca said he is also concerned about his girlfriend. While out shopping earlier this summer, Gruca suggested she buy some pepper spray for herself and he said they both try to make sure she is always with a friend when she’s going out at night.
Other students who were walking near U-M’s campus on Thursday said they still feel safe in Ann Arbor, despite the recent attacks.
Johanna Dennehy, a 29-year-old graduate student, said she would probably feel worried if she was out in the early morning hours, but it’s not a situation she usually finds herself in.
She said she’s been out of town in the past few weeks but read about the recent sexual assaults in Ann Arbor in a New York Times article. However, she doesn’t think there’s any harm being done to Ann Arbor’s image.
“This sort of thing can happen anywhere,” she said.
Stacy Tomczyk, an Ypsilanti resident and U-M student who moved to the area from Big Rapids, said she still feels safe in Ann Arbor even if it’s a different atmosphere than the small-town community she grew up in.
Tomczyk said the only precaution she takes is to not go running at night, but she was looking into getting pepper spray in the near future.
For Tomczyk, the recent attacks just seem to be a part of city life.
“It’s still a city, it’s not just a campus,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff happening outside of the bubble.”