The UH Student Feminist Organization had a UHDPS officer discuss stalking and the personal and legal procedures available last Thursday in the University Center Palo Duro room.
Stalking is a huge problem on campus and difficult to prosecute because it is the least reported, said Officer William Courtney. Students need to keep meticulous documentation if they think they are being stalked.
“The biggest issue we have with stalking is documentation,” Courtney said. “If you see the person in Point A and then he followed you to Point B, write it down, document what happens, don’t put it in your own words … It has to be exact.”
Courtney added that it’s legal and advised for men and women to carry tasers and mace cans to be prepared for situations of stalking or harassment.
“Don’t be alone … that way you have a witness,” Courtney said. “Stay off your cell phones and pay attention to your surroundings.”
Lisa de Waart, president of Student Feminist Organization, said stalking is even a bigger problem today because of technology.
“Stalking is even worse now with social networking websites like Facebook,” de Waart said. “There are many UH students that post where they are, their phone number, their workplace information and their every thought all in one place.”
De Waart thinks the Internet has a heavy stalking presence.
“The average age of undergraduate UH students is about 23,” de Waart said. “Unfortunately this is the age where stalking is most prevalent, so I think UH students should be more aware of stalking on campus.”
Courtney talked about signs that can identify potential stalkers, including different types of abuse and when your partner becomes controlling.
“Go with your gut instinct … if you really feel in your gut that you’re being followed let us know,” Courtney said. “Once your partner begins to be controlling it’s time to leave the relationship … true relationships have a level of trust.”
De Waart remarked that stalking is often taken too lightly because it is not something talked about often. De Waart and Courtney both highlighted the importance for men and women to understand they have options.
“Stalking is a problem because the person being stalked often closes their eyes to the truth and doesn’t believe anyone will believe them,” Courtney said. “But we will believe you.”