By TOM DIDDEL
Missoula police and University of Montana campus authorities are searching for a man who allegedly assaulted a woman on campus during a robbery.
The incident occurred early Wednesday morning near the campus tennis courts. At around midnight, a female student was approached by a man on campus who demanded her wallet.
The victim told police she thought it was a joke and didn’t hand the wallet over right away, according to a KPAX.com report. The 20-year-old woman was then punched in the face and stomach by the attacker according to a police report. The assailant reportedly took the woman’s wallet and ran off.
After the assailant fled, the woman used one of the many emergency phones located around campus in order to alert campus police of the incident. Students received text messages Wednesday and a warning was posted on the University’s Facebook page alerting the student population about the incident.
Officials at the university stated they were happy with the way students were notified, but will work on improving the time it takes them to alert the campus population.
Students have become aware of the problem of increasing violence on campus and according to one student interviewed by KPAX.com they are taking precautions. Caroline Houser, a sophomore at the university stated she carries, “self-defense stuff.”
University of Montana Interim Communications Vice President, Peggy Kuhr wants to remind students the Grizzly Personal Safety program offers escorts to students walking alone on campus at night.
Kuhr told KPAX.com that, “this is a rare occurrence and we’re grateful for that. At the same time the safety of our students all the time is the number one concern and we have people who are working with the residence halls to make sure people know how to be aware of your surroundings.”
While the University has been scrutinized over their handling of recent sexual assaults on its campus, this incident does highlight the some of the steps the institution has taken to combat crime.
The University is offering seminars on sexual assault awareness and the community as a whole has taken on the responsibility of combating these crimes. Make Your Move, Missoula is one such organization created by concerned citizens working to end sexual violence, according to their Facebook page.
Each week, Tom Diddel recaps the week’s most talked-about story in Missoula. Visit the Make it Missoula News & Opinion section for more talk of the town.
Tom Diddel has lived in Missoula on and off for nearly thirty-eight years. He enjoys skiing, hiking, and many other outdoor activities. He holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Montana and is currently working as a Freelance Writer and a Para-Educator.