October 21, 2008

To the Tulane Community:

I wanted to give you an update on this past Sunday's sexual assault of a Tulane student and the subsequent arrest of the alleged perpetrator. Attacks against our students such as this and those that occurred on Sept. 28 and Oct.12 are the worst possible news a university community can hear. Please be assured that we are protecting the privacy of these victims while assisting them in every way possible.

As president and a parent, I am deeply upset and saddened about what has occurred and I am going to make sure we continue to do whatever we can to protect our community. In the past, we have taken pride in our safety record but these recent tragic incidents indicate we must do more and we will.

Our one solace is that the alleged perpetrator in Sunday's attack is now in jail thanks to the efforts of the victim, the Tulane Police Department, the New Orleans Police Department and, most importantly, a few fellow Tulane students who witnessed the attack, chased the suspect away and provided his license plate number and vehicle description to police who were patrolling the area.

Although we are relieved that a suspect in these attacks is now behind bars, this is no time to let our guard down. Police are still investigating whether this suspect is also responsible for the previous two attacks. At this time, we cannot assume that the current suspect in jail is responsible for all three assaults.

Regardless of the outcome of the current investigations, Tulane is increasing security in a number of ways to ensure the continued safety of our community. We are increasing the number of perimeter patrols on the streets surrounding campus. We have also increased the operating hours of our free shuttle services and, as always, the Tulane Police are available 24 hours a day to escort any Tulane community member who feels unsafe. In addition we are also adding 19 crime cameras in and around campus and are placing yard signs containing crime prevention tips throughout campus. Our Rape Aggression Defense classes, taught by trained TUPD officers, are also seeing an increase in participants.

However, despite these enhancements, the best deterrent to crime is still a vigilant university community. No amount of actions by any university can eliminate crime; therefore, we need the assistance of everyone in the Tulane community. The number one way to avoid being a crime victim is to avoid walking alone after dark, especially late at night or in the early morning. While weekend nights are a time of socializing for most of us, predators view them as an opportunity to catch victims unaware.

As the students in Sunday's attack so heroically demonstrated, look out for one another. Know the whereabouts of every member of your party. Make sure no one ever walks alone. Be accountable to yourselves and others and make sure they are accountable to you. Read and follow the safety tips that are displayed around campus. If you see any suspicious activity call the Tulane Police immediately at 865-5200 or the New Orleans Police at 821-2222 or 911.

Finally, please officially report any possible crimes that you become aware of so we have the information needed to take immediate action. Without you coming forward with knowledge of possible crimes, the university's efforts are hampered to protect its community.

Scott Cowen


Office of the President Emeritus, 1555 Poydras St, Suite 700, New Orleans, LA 70112 504-274-3638