Calling for tighter security measures at Towson State University, nearly 200 students marched across campus yesterday, stormed the administration building and confronted the school's president with a list of demands.
The students, fearful after two rapes within six months, told President Hoke L. Smith they would no longer allow their lives to be "endangered" because of the university's "negligence" in addressing the security issue.
"We want the administration to know that we wanted to be protected. That we don't want them to blow off our demands," said Faith McGowan, a 21-year-old junior who led the group of commuters and resident students in the protest.
Mr. Smith sought to calm the students, saying his administration would try to work with them and calling for formation of a student committee to help university officials draft a new security policy.
Many students voiced dissatisfaction that the school had suggested they take more responsibility for their own safety after last week's sexual assault of a woman abducted from a campus garage. Another student was raped in her room during orientation in July.
With only a 33-person force to patrol the 328-acre campus, administrators suggested that students participate in community watch programs, walk well-lighted paths with friends and obtain whistles to use during emergencies.
"Who's supposed to come when you blow the whistle?" Cherise Bullock, a 20-year-old junior, asked Mr. Smith and administrators, who told the group that revising the campus' security would take time and money.
"They're trying to sweep what happened under the rug because of the money issue," Ms. Bullocksaid.
"We pay a lot of money to attend this school. If students do not feel safe then they are not going to come here and the school is going to lose more money than it would if they spent it for better security," she added.
Instead of whistles, the students demanded that the administration offer tear gas key chains for sale in the student union.
They also wanted better lighting on the campus paths and in parking facilities, more officers and foot patrols, broken emergency telephones repaired, tighter dormitory security and free self-defense seminars.
And, the group added, they want their demands met by the start of classes on Monday.
Mr. Smith assured them that his staff would begin measures to repair broken telephones and lights, increase police patrols and escorts during the evening hours.