CPSO increases campus presence after spike in invasion of privacy reports

In response to a recent increase of invasion of privacy crimes in university buildings, Campus Public Safety Officers will be increasing their presence in Smith Memorial Student Union, Cramer Hall, Ondine Residence Hall and the Academic and Student Recreation Center.

There have been four reported cases of invasion of privacy in 2019 so far, compared to two in 2017 and none reported in 2018.

“​We are asking the PSU Community for their increased vigilance of suspicious activity and to report them immediately,” read a statement released by the university on March 3. “Anyone with information is asked to call CPSO at 503-725-4407.”

The most recent case took place on Feb. 26 in the gender neutral bathroom on the fourth floor of SMSU. Although the victim has a description of the perpetrator, the case remains open and pending.

Another incident took place on Feb. 1 in the all gender restroom in SMSU and another again on Feb. 5 in the first floor bathrooms of the ASRC. In both cases the perpetrator was not caught.

The listed crimes only represent those that are reported. It is not known how many cases go unreported.

Invasion of privacy is defined by Oregon law as a “person knowingly makes or records a photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording in a state of nudity without the consent of another person.”

The legal consequences of committing an invasion of privacy crime could include a maximum sentence of up to five years in the first degree and fines with up to a one year sentence in the second degree.

“I want to ensure that no one is afraid to use our restrooms on campus,” said CPSO Chief of Police Donnell Tanksley.

Although there is no evidence to suggest that these crimes are connected, Tanksley said “these incidents are all too common on college and university campuses nationwide.”  

CPSO recommends to prevent these kinds of incidents students should be aware of their surroundings and avoid wearing headphones or being distracted on a phone.

It is also recommended that any suspicious behavior should be reported to CPSO and that campus safety escort services are available to anyone who feels unsafe around campus.

“Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe, get to a safe place and call for help,” Tanksley said.

According to Tanksley, CPSO is looking into personal safety apps such as “Rave Guardian,” which is already used on many college campuses such as Boise State University. The app would allow users to notify campus security of their information and whereabouts at the tap of a screen. It would also allow users to send anonymous text or photo tips to campus police.

There has been consideration of adding more cameras and signage around bathrooms and other areas as a crime reduction technique.

The university has released a statement regarding the recent incidents urging students to be “vigilant and aware of [their] surroundings on and off campus”