USD students on alert after sexual assault warning

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Vermillion, SD The Vermillion police department is investigating two alleged sexual assaults of University of South Dakota students.

Police say the first incident happened on campus Sunday afternoon, the second off campus early Monday morning.

Wednesday night, the University sent out an email warning students about the incidents and the three ‘persons of interest’ police are investigating.

“I was sitting at the library when I got the email,” USD Freshman Madelin Klamm said.

“I found it actually on Face book and I was a little startled I guess. Then I got emails about it and I just never thought anything like this would happen at USD,” Freshman Emily Dreeszen said.

It’s why the university says the email notification was essential to remind students to be alert.

“Because we are such a safe town and campus, a lot of people can easily take that for granted…we need to think of the good of the whole campus and we need to have these things reported so our awareness is up and if there is a bad actor we have a chance of getting them out of the community,” USD Director of Marketing Communications Tena Haraldson said.

The Vermillion police department says it doesn't believe students are in any immediate danger.

“In this case there really is no more risk today than there was a week ago…this is a good wake up call for individuals to take a look at what safety measures they employ and make sure they're looking out for one another,” Captain Chad Passick with the Vermillion Police Department said.

That's exactly what students have been doing since they received the news of these two sexual assaults Wednesday.

“I don't walk by myself; I at least walk with another girl and walk under streetlights now and as much in the public as we can,” Klamm said.

“Walking back from class or just late at night from the library I do walk with a friend and I do have mace on me just in case for safety precautions,” Dreeszen said.

USD says these are important safety tips students should use at all times. The university will be sending out another email this week with safety tips ahead of this weekend's homecoming festivities.

Police are still investigating the two alleged assaults, but no arrests have been made at this time.

Police and the University representatives say they commend the victims for coming forward to file these reports. Haraldson says sexual assaults are a huge issue on campuses nationwide. Right now, only an estimated 20 percent of campus sexual assaults are reported in the U.S.