by Bekah Ervin
On Friday, Oct. 23, around 2:50ish in the afternoon, I was walking to a meeting when I was approached by an unfamiliar young man. He started talking to me, asking intrusive questions like where I was from, which dorm I lived in and my current relationship status. He identified himself as a Jackson State University student that just moved here from Atlanta, and said he was renting a house across the street from Millsaps. He continued with the intrusive questions and eventually asked for my phone number. Of course I did not want to give him my phone number, but to get out of the situation, I obliged with a fake phone number. It was an extremely uncomfortable situation that should have never happened to begin with, since we are on a private campus with a gate and security. I wondered who he was and why he was here, but I went on about my business and brushed off the event.
After my meeting, I headed towards the Sanderson dorm to meet a friend. As I approached the dorm, my stomach dropped when I saw the same man was still there. He approached me once again.
“Hey, Bekah. Why did you give me the wrong number?”
My heart started beating rapidly as my “fight-or-flight” instincts kicked in. I played it off as an accident. I asked him why he was still on our campus and he gave a jumbled, confusing response that was totally unbelievable. I told him I had to go, and he began to pressure me about getting my actual phone number. At this point, I was trapped, standing at the door into Sanderson with nowhere to go other than into Sanderson. I knew I had to get out of the situation. Three feet away from me, he continued to hassle me about my phone number. In order to get to a safe place, I gave him my phone number and went into Sanderson as soon as he walked far enough away.
As soon as I got to my friend’s room, I called Campus Security. The first phone call ended with the officer stating that two officers were headed to the location I gave them to find the campus intruder. I thought it was weird, though, that he didn’t ask for a description. He called back for one a few minutes later. After I ended the second phone call, I saw I had a text from the intruder: “Wassup u wanna pic?” I did not respond. Moments later, I received a nude photo from this strange male with the command “Open this ;)” I was mortified. My friend and I called Campus Security again, thinking the phone number would be helpful information to track him.
“YOU HAVE HIS PHONE NUMBER?!” the officer exclaimed in a half-yell/half-laugh. We explained how he received my number, saying I only gave it to him so that I could get out of the physically compromising situation. The officer chuckled, obviously abused. He belittled both of us: “Well, my advice is to never give anyone your phone number!”
After the encounter, I told my friends about him and told them to be safe. Since then, I’ve heard from two other females about their similar accounts with this intruder. Did they ever find him? I haven’t heard.
Dear Officer: Thank you for shaming me for giving someone my phone number so that I could get to safety. Thank you for not handling this situation in a “professional, courteous manner so that [my] time here on campus is pleasurable and safe,” as the Campus Safety mission states. Thank you for making me feel like this sexual harassment was my fault. Thank you for not monitoring who comes onto my private campus, even during business hours. Thank you for not doing your job.
Dear Intruder: You proved to me why we need feminism. I hate you for making me scared to be on my college campus. I hate you for taking away the peace of mind I deserve. I hate you for sending the unsolicited nude photo. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you.