Features News

Tracking Catcalling, Solutions Found in Numbers

Department of Public Safety sign. Photo courtesy of Sarah Gleason.

An uptick in reported catcalling incidents at Point Loma Nazarene University has led the Assistant Director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), Kaz Trypuc, to look into the events for patterns and perpetrators.  

However, Trypuc is unable to say if the increase is due to either a rise in incidents or reporting of incidents. 

One female PLNU student, who requested anonymity due to the fear of being targeted by the people who catcalled her, reported two catcalling incidents this semester. 

The first incident occurred on Jan. 12 around 5:15 p.m. The student was walking alone toward Cooper Music Hall from the Flex Apartments when a car stopped and she heard a voice say “Excuse me.”

The student stopped and saw the male perpetrator, who was in the front passenger seat traveling with other male passengers. The passenger then catcalled her and drove off. 

The student did not recognize any of the people in the car but thought they looked college-aged. 

After the first incident, the student told her roommates and they advised her to report it. She called the DPS and, after they took her information, they said to keep reporting such incidents and to encourage friends to report as well. 

The student said when she shares her experience with someone, they often say they have experienced something similar. 

The second incident occurred on Jan 25. The student was walking with another student when someone from a moving vehicle yelled incoherent words at them. The two students immediately called DPS. 

Trypuc said that DPS is looking to identify male perpetrators.

The student said the incidents have affected her sense of safety. 

“Now every time that I walk anywhere alone, I think that that’s gonna happen again, and so I get freaked out. And it sucks that I don’t feel safe on campus anymore,” she said. 

According to Trypuc’s records, the student is not the only person reporting catcalling to the DPS.

DPS does not track catcalling specifically, but catcalling reports are filed under categories such as “suspicious persons,” “harassment,” or “general complaints.” These reports are manually reviewed by DPS administrators. 

“I found two instances from Fall 2022 and eight in January 2023,” Trypuc said. “After following up with some of those involved, I was made aware of a few other instances that either went unreported or have not yet been verified.”

Of the incident reports the DPS receives, Trypuc said the result of many is an inability to locate the vehicle, perpetrators or both. 

To begin the process of locating a perpetrator, the DPS collects all relevant information from the victim. The next step is to sift through security camera footage. This step is often where perpetrators are not able to be found. 

Trypuc said there are a few key reasons for this outcome. Although there are more than 150 security cameras on campus, there is only one camera on campus with license plate recognition technology. Details of cars and faces are often not clearly identifiable due to the angles of cameras, the speed of vehicles, the lighting, or all of the above. 

Trypuc said there is a misconception of the ability of technology. He said there is technology available to track license plate numbers, faces and objects; however, he said it is expensive and he does not see the need for such technology on campus. 

“As concerning as this [catcalling] behavior is, the stuff we’re discussing, our campus has a very low incident, almost non-existent, of violent crime,” Trypuc said. “What we see most often is minor property crime and theft like that,” Trypuc said. 

According to PLNU’s 2022 Annual Security & Fire Safety Report, in 2021 there were two reported on-campus fondling sexual assaults, two reported residence hall fondling sexual assaults, one reported on-campus burglary, five reported on-campus motor vehicle thefts, three reported on-campus liquor law violations, three reported residence hall liquor law violations, nine reported on-campus drug abuse violations and five reported residence hall drug abuse violations. 

As of Feb. 1, the DPS is actively investigating a vehicle that has been involved in more than one of the catcalling incidences. DPS is working to identify who the owner of the vehicle is and follow up with them. 

If a student, staff or faculty member is catcalled and they want to report it to the DPS, the following facts help track the perpetrator:

  • Physical description of perpetrator including characteristics like sex, ethnicity, clothing, if they were carrying a bag, where they were last seen, how long ago and what direction they were heading
  • Make of the vehicle
  • Model of the vehicle
  • How many occupants the vehicle was carrying

Director of the Title IX office, Danielle Frieberg said students, staff and faculty members can submit complaints of catcalling to her office. Her office is also an appropriate place to attain support after an incident.  

Written By: Sarah Gleason