Students Relay Stalking Related Incidents

Stalking is a concern on many college and university campuses. Photo by Brackett Hardy ‘22

Julia Knoerr ‘21

Staff writer

While the term “stalking” generally evokes images of strangers’ forceful behavior at large state schools or in big cities, stalking also occurs within the confines of protected communities like Davidson. 

Davidson College defines stalking as “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to: fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.” Specifically, the phrase “course of conduct” refers to two or more acts. This definition follows North Carolina law and is similar to that in the federal Clery Act.

To see how acts like stalking play out in our community, The Davidsonian heard student reports about being stalked on and around campus.

Athena-Maria Kalamaras ‘19 reports experiencing unwanted advances on Davidson’s campus. The first incident occurred during her sophomore year in 2015, when she was working at the library front desk for her job. According to Kalamaras, a male student approached her during her work-study and asked inappropriate questions. Kalamaras alleges that the student repeatedly bothered her despite her voiced rejection and lack of interest and called her on the work phone. Eventually, she filed a report to Campus Police but decided not to take any further action.

Kalamaras was away from campus for two years but returned this year to graduate. Upon her return in August, she discovered that the same male student who bothered her three years prior was still here. According to Kalamaras, he approached her at the library, again asked questions at the front desk, and added her on Facebook. Kalamaras reported the inappropriate behavior to her supervisors, but one day confronted him to tell her she was aware and had informed her supervisors of his behavior. 

The following day, Angela Harris, Assistant Dean of Students and Case Manager, called Kalamaras to her office. The student had suddenly added the same class with Kalamaras two days before the add/drop period closed and reported that he felt uncomfortable with her in the class. 

Kalamaras asked Harris, “What if at any point I feel like I too am uncomfortable in that class? Would you be able to remove that student from the class?” According to Kalamaras, Harris commented that the male student needed the class to graduate, and she reconmended that Kalamaras drop the course so that she did not feel uncomfortable.

Kalamaras has remained in the class because she too needs it to graduate. However, she empathizes with women who experience similar situations while also facing the additional difficulties of mental illnesses such as anxiety or PTSD. “Until when are we going to protect the offender instead of the victim?” she asked. According to Kalamaras, the male student has since been instructed by administration not to be in her general vicinity apart from the classroom setting. 

The Davidsonian is aware of other allegations against the same individual. Upon request for a comment by editorial staff over email on Monday, the individual did not respond. 

The Davidsonian received another report of a student experiencing stalking-like behavior by a non-student employee of a Davidson town business. The student contacted Campus Police, who sent them to the Town of Davidson Police Dept. Town police officers then spoke with the individual accused of stalking, according to the Davidson student.

Chief Todd Sigler of Campus Police expanded on reporting at the criminal level, explaining, “For purposes of filing with the police, whether it’s us or with the Town of Davidson, it’s the same. So a person would come in, visit with an officer, describe what’s happening, [and] provide evidence, which is critical…The kinds of evidence [have] changed as electronic media has changed.”

Harris declined to comment for this article due to protections from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) on the case, but she confirmed that the Dean of Students Office “provides support aligned with the college’s commitment to ensure a safe and non-hostile environment for all students.” 

While sexual harassment and stalking-related incidents gain visibility on college campuses, they are not confined to the campus setting. 

Police action depends on the victim’s desires. Sigler explained, “We would be interested in knowing whether or not the victim wants to pursue any kind of a criminal complaint…we’ll ask them, ‘Do you want us to talk to the individual?’ We will proceed on the basis of the victim’s wishes.”

As stalking falls under Title IX through the Clery Act, Dean Leslie Grinage ‘03, the College’s Title IX Coordinator, further outlined victims’ options for reporting in an e-mail correspondence. Grinage stated, “Stalking is prohibited under Davidson’s Student Sexual Misconduct Policy. If a student believes they have been violated under this policy, they can file a formal complaint by meeting with the Title IX Coordinator. They can also file a criminal report with Campus Police and seek support from them regarding the process of obtaining a civil protective order.”

Grinage elaborated on no-contact orders, commenting, “A no-contact order issued by the Dean of Students Office mandates that students do not communicate with one another in person or via email, social media, third parties, etc. It is mutual, meaning that it is expected that all involved will not have contact with one another.” Restraining orders, or orders of protection that go through the Magistrate’s Office, differ in that only the perpetrator receives the order.

Stalking is especially prominent at the college level. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, “Current research shows that stalking and technology-facilitated stalking are significantly more common among college students than the general public.” The majority of incidents also occur with someone the victim knows, including a current or former intimate partner; however, “70-75% of college stalking victims do not contact law enforcement.”

Accordingly, students rarely report stalking at Davidson. Based on the College’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report, Davidson had 3 reports of stalking in 2017, 0 in 2016, and 2 in 2015. No incidents of criminal stalking under North Carolina law have been reported yet in 2018. Sigler confirmed that these numbers represent a normal trend. He suggested that one reason for the low number of reports might be that people are not aware of what constitutes stalking.

While keeping students engaged with ongoing education remains challenging, Davidson provides many resources for students who have experienced stalking. An email from Health Educator Georgia Ringle offered that the “Health Education Office and the Student Health and Counseling Center want to be supportive in assisting anyone with this experience. The Health Education Office can assist a student trying to figure out next steps and help connect that student to other options and resources. Other good resources are the Chaplain’s Office, the Residential Life Staff, the Community of Survivors support group, Campus Police and off campus, Safe Alliance in Cornelius or Charlotte.”

Comments are closed.