OPINION: Penn State’s decrease in Timely Warnings a concern for student’s health and safety

Story posted November 11, 2022 in CommRadio, News by Natalie Simone

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The most recent Timely Warning sent out from Penn State Alerts was on Nov. 2 at 4:16 pm. The incident was reported by a third party that inappropriate fondling occurred at an off-campus fraternity house.

Timely Warnings are sent out to all campus community members about potential or ongoing threats and/or crimes that have been reported on campus. All alerts notify community members through text, email and the PSU Alert System.

These alerts are important to students, including Lily Mastrobattista, a third-year public relations major.

“I usually look at [Timely Warning notifications] because I’m curious and I like to know what’s happening,” Mastrobattista said.

However, this semester at Penn State, Timely Warnings are at a low and have been few and far between.

“We need to make it safe for people to talk about these things and make them know that there is no harm in coming out and talking about it,” Adam Burkholde said.

“It’s what you’re supposed to do and it’ll help you in the long run, even though it is a scary thing,” Burkholde (second-year-marketing) said. 

An overwhelming amount of sexual assaults aren’t reported to police by college-aged students. It is estimated that less than 33% of sexual assaults are reported to the police. Additionally, around 60% of crimes on college campuses aren’t reported. It is believed that some people don’t report their own incidents because they feel that other victims have experienced worse crimes.

At Penn State, Timely Warnings began in the spring semester of 2015 under the Clergy Act to bring attention to on-campus crimes and keep students up-to-date. At Penn State’s University Park campus, there have been five Timely Warnings sent out since the beginning of the fall semester on Aug. 18.

Four out of five alerts occurred within the first 10 days of the semester, which included three sex offenses and one “stalking” incident. These four alerts were followed by Nov. 2’s alert. Timely Warnings are integral for students to stay in touch with on-campus crimes, but this semester there has been a noticeable decrease in alerts.

Natalie Simone is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email nvs5790@psu.edu.