Last weekend, Paige Rojas, A&S ’15, was allegedly assaulted on consecutive nights by a white male in a grey hooded sweatshirt. According to Rojas’ reports to the BCPD, the alleged attacks occurred near the Ignacio stairs early Saturday morning, and then again early Sunday morning outside Corcoran Commons.
In interviews, several administrators stated their belief that the events as reported to BCPD did not occur. They expressed their hope to work with any students who may be concerned about campus safety or hate crime protocol, however.
Rojas said she believes she was targeted because of her race, stating that the attacker called her a “dirty Spic” before attacking her.
The first attack is alleged to have occurred around 1:40 a.m. Saturday morning near the Ignacio stairs and Campanella Way, roughly 100 yards from the BCPD station and near an emergency blue box. The attacker allegedly used a racial epithet during the assault on Rojas. In her report to police, Rojas was unable to describe the events of the attack exactly, but stated that the attacker grabbed hold of her leg, causing scratch wounds. It is not clear whether the attacker had a weapon. After the attack, Rojas told police that she returned to her room, but was later convinced by her friends to go to Health Services.
Officers of the BCPD met with Rojas at Health Services around 3 a.m. Saturday morning and took her report on the events of the night.
The second attack is alleged to have occurred around 1:15 a.m. outside Corcoran Commons. Rojas stated that the same attacker found her again and kicked her in the wounds that had been created the previous night. Rojas did not report the second attack until Sunday afternoon.
Rojas was contacted for an interview but was unavailable for comment.
On Monday morning, BCPD posted a Facebook status concerning the alleged attacks.
“A female student has reported being assaulted (kicked and scratched) two consecutive nights in a row on campus by the same individual,” the status read. “The first incident was on Campanella Way on April 14 about 1:40 a.m., the second outside of the Commons at about 1:15 a.m. on April 15. The victim reports the suspect was a white male, 5’9″, wearing a grey ‘hoodie’ and had black hair. Anyone with information about these incidents is encouraged to call the BCPD at 617-552-4440.”
Beginning Wednesday night, news of the attack spread rapidly over the Internet. Alicia Battistoni, president of the Organization of Latin American Affairs (OLAA) and A&S ’13, wrote an e-mail to OLAA members Wednesday night relaying Rojas’ account of the alleged attacks.
“This is a violent attack that has gone unreported to students by the administration,” Battistoni wrote. “It’s time to get a bit revolutionary and speak up. Ask your friends if they know this happened, if they know of similar instances, and get some conversations going. Post about it on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, just spread this story because people need to know.
“It is suspected that her attacker is a student on campus, although this is not confirmed,” Battistoni wrote. “For your safety and for the safety of your friends, do NOT let anyone walk around campus alone at night. Do NOT walk around alone at night with headphones in and please remain aware of your surroundings.”
Patrick Rombalski, vice president for Student Affairs, addressed the incident in an e-mail to the Boston College community sent Thursday afternoon.
“BC Police met with the individual and investigated the complaint,” Rombalski wrote. “Other administrators also met with the student over the weekend to offer support, and the incident was reported to the Office of Institutional Diversity according to the guidelines of the University Hate Crimes Protocol.”
In her e-mail to OLAA members, Battistoni pointed out that the alleged attacks are classified as a hate crime because “[Rojas] believes she was targeted because of her race and individuality.”
News of the attack also spread rapidly on Facebook and Twitter, with many students reposting parts of Battistoni’s e-mail and similarly calling for action. Many accused the University of a perceived slow response to the events of the weekend.
In his letter to the community, Rombalski addressed the rapid spread of news of the attack on the Internet.
“In carefully reviewing the matter, however, aspects of these incidents as reported proved to be inconsistent with BCPD’s investigative findings,” Rombalski said. “As a result, BCPD has concluded that no threat was ever present to the BC community or to the individual. There have been reports on the web and social media regarding this incident that are inaccurate. They only serve to undermine trust in our community.”
In an unrelated incident, a female student reported that the driver of a vehicle shouted a racial epithet at her when she attempted to cross Campanella Way last weekend.
The investigations of both cases remain open, and students with any relevant information are encouraged to contact the BCPD or the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.
“The University treats allegations of this nature with the utmost seriousness, and is committed to addressing them to the fullest,” Rombalski said. “All of us reject intolerance of any form, and we all share in a desire to live in a community free from violence and hate.”