On Wednesday, students at Delaware State University came together to protest against multiple cases of sexual assault happening on campus and demand action from the administration and the Delaware State University Police Department.
According to Delaware Online, hundreds protested in front of the public safety building and flooded a campus street, claiming experiences of excessive force from campus police officers, slow response times, and lack of response to student calls.
Students also said that many sexual assaults have gone unreported for fear they will not be taken seriously.
DSU student, Bryanna Dawson reached out to HBCU Buzz to inform us about what the students have been facing at the university.
Dawson says that many men on campus have been harassing and being aggressive towards women and there are known rapists that are campus DJs, members of fraternities, and in student leadership positions.
She claims that the Delaware State Police Department has “thrown cases out and has been overheard laughing at some and victim blaming others.”
“We’re just trying to bring awareness to student rights,” a freshman named Micaih Lloyd told Delaware Online. “Not all students feel safe on campus.”
“We’re supposed to be at a place where we feel loved, where we feel at home,” Lloyd added. “Administration needs to make a change.”
Delaware Online reports that Director of News Services Carlos Holmes stressed that all students have a right to free speech, and some university officials watched the afternoon demonstration themselves. Police Chief Bobby Cummings was one of those university officials and reportedly spoke to students gathered in front of his department.
“Bottom line is, students have expressed serious concerns about this,” Holmes said. “And the university is listening.”
According to Holmes, DSU president Tony Allen plans to meet formally with student organizers.
Holmes told Delaware Online that every sexual assault reported to campus police is investigated.
Police Chief Bobby Cummings claimed that trying to get information from witnesses is difficult and encouraged students to speak with campus police, to which he was met with shouts from students, telling him “Less conversation and more action.”
Students also said campus police have been slow in responding to incidents, and when they arrive, nothing results from reports.
From August 2022 to the day before the protest, Jan. 17, the university’s public crime log shows seven reports of rape on campus. Each case is marked as pending.
“I hope to see some changes and better safety measures,” DSU student, Delyah Fleury said. “They need to be truthful if the Police Department is understaffed. And if it is, they need to do something about it.”
Fleury added that communication between students, police, and administrators needs to be improved, as students only receive a text message when there is an incident. “There’s no big announcement, no meetings. We need to know what we can do to protect ourselves, There’s nobody we can go to. Who do we call?”
Students also demanded action from administrators and student government leaders.
DSU SGA released a statement on Friday addressing sexual assault on campus, ensuring that student safety is their “top priority.”
Other organizations on campus, like DSU G.I.V.E are raising awareness while providing students and survivors a safe space. This organization is dedicated to educating the community on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Mental Health.
Many asked for details about what the administration is going to do to respond to reports of sexual assault and to improve safety.
“The university is ready to make any adjustments necessary,” Holmes told Delaware Online/The News Journal. “We just need to have more discussions.”