UPD investigates ‘isolated’ assault incident


On Tuesday, Dec. 6, the University Police Department at Southern Miss sent a mass email to students regarding an ongoing investigation of an “isolated incident of a sexual assault that was reported to have occurred Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016, on the Hattiesburg campus.”

“The incident was reported to UPD on Tuesday morning, Dec. 6, 2016, by a student who indicated she was the victim of a sexual assault by an acquaintance,” UPD wrote. “UPD has determined that there is no current threat to the campus community.”

Currently, UPD is investigating two other alleged assault cases. One case involves the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, which was suspended from activity on Oct. 29 following an alleged incident occurring at the SAE house during a homecoming party.

The second incident occurred four days after president-elect Donald Trump’s win in the 2016 election. Marine biology major Kaitlyn Buckley reported two male suspects wearing Trump T-shirts for alleged harassment. According to Buckley, one of the men grabbed her inappropriately, and she immediately shoved them off of her.

“One was about [6 feet tall] and had long, blonde hair,” Buckley said in a previous Printz interview. “The other was about [5 feet 10 inches tall] and had dark hair. As I passed them, the blond reached out and grabbed my butt.”

According to Buckley, after she walked away, one of the boys called after her and said, “Trump is going to be president now, so you better get used to it.”

On the same day Buckley’s story was published in The Student Printz, university officials addressed students, faculty and staff in a letter.

“It has been nearly a week since the conclusion of what many characterized as the most divisive and difficult presidential campaign season in memory,” The Office of the Provost wrote. “Across the nation, emotions are running high, and many people are expressing distress, frustration and anger during this time of transition. Our institution is no exception, as I have heard and seen members of our community who are tearful, distressed and even fearful about what the national climate means for us.”

Steven R. Moser, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Thomas H. Burke, Vice President for Student Affairs and Vice Provost, Amy C. Miller, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Casey M. Maugh Funderburk, Vice Provost for the Gulf Park Campus signed the letter urging students to “be assured, these values of community, inclusiveness, civility and respect remain at the core of our University.”

UPD Capt. Rusty Keyes said the university is still investigating both incidents and that the recent incident is isolated.

“These three incidents are not connected,” Keyes said. “If there is something endangering our community, UPD would make the public aware.”

Keyes said students should remain aware of their surroundings, even with their significant others.

“We are always encouraging our students to be aware of their surroundings,” Keyes said. “Be confident of yourself and be sure of your boundaries. Do not get into unfamiliar cars or go to unfamiliar locations, and be aware of your personal boundaries.”

Keyes said students with questions or related information that would assist in the ongoing investigation are encouraged to contact UPD at 601-266-4986.