Oakland University sees rise in sex assaults due to social media

Oakland University Officials are reporting a rise in sexual assaults on campus, due to social media.

University officials say this is very unusual that two months into the new school year there have been two sexual assaults on campus.

In two unrelated cases, female students were raped by men they met through social media sites and apps like Tinder. Both men were non-students.

One woman was assaulted in a car in September; the other happened last Thursday in her dorm room at West Vandenburg Hall.

Students are concerned about a rise in unsafe social media dating at Oakland.

"Not everyone is who they say they are and not have the right intentions," said Lauren Kerrigan, a freshman.

"They go by themselves to meet somebody knowing it's a stranger and thinking oh they're fine," said Cierra Castillo, a sophomore. "(They think) they aren't going to do anything, and then this happens."

University officials say normally there are only two or three confirmed assault cases each school year. With two this year, both stemming from social media, police worry more assaults could happen.

"You believe you know who you think they are," said OU Police Chief Mark Gordon. "However, you don't necessarily know who they are until you meet them face-to-face."

Gordon says these assaults could have been prevented if these students took a few more precautions.

"Take a friend with you," Gordon said. "Or at least let a friend know where you are. Meet in a public place, so that there's other people around. And always have an exit strategy. So you know if this person become somebody you weren't anticipating, you have a way out of that set of circumstances."

Students also say there are plenty of public places on campus, perfect for a first date.

"I would say if you're going to meet someone that you've never met before from a social media website, maybe have your friend with you, or other friends," said Cierra Castillo, a sophomore. "Meet them in the OC or library or something, just so there's more people around."

The OU staff is making an effort to bring more education to the students about sexual assault, rape, and safe dating practices with online dating. It is holding three days of seminars next week to address just that.