STUDENTS at Athlone Institure of Technology (AIT) have been advised to take extra precautions after a female student was assaulted outside the college.
The second year student was attacked outside the college on 17th September by a lone assailant. The student was reported to be shaken by the incident but managed to get away safely.
The President of the AIT Students’ Union, Micheál Fogarty, said that although students were concerned about the incident, the college has sufficient facilities and services to deal with their concerns.
“There’s plenty of support for people here in the college” explained Mr Fogarty. “Everybody knows we’re here and everybody knows the student services that are here.”
Mr Fogarty stated that the major concern among students was that this was the first attack on an AIT student. This, he felt, had encouraged anxiety among some students as they were unsure whether the assault was connected to previous assaults that had occurred last year.
AIT Campus Watch Co-ordinator, Sarah La Cumbre explained that while the college strives to provide a safe environment for students, it is the students’ responsibility to make safe and informed decisions when they are outside campus grounds.
“We’ve no way of controlling what happens outside in the world” stated Ms La Cumbre “We have to encourage people to be sensible (and) look after themselves when they are going home in the evening.”
Ms La Cumbre went on to say that its of added importance that students stay together in groups when they are leaving for home. She suggested that if students are unaccompanied, they may lack the ability to be able to make “sound decisions on their own (if they) had a few drinks”.
The incident was the latest of a number of assaults that occurred in Athlone. Three other assaults occurred last year between August and October. Gardaí are currently trying to establish whether there is a link with previous assaults and have released a description of the possible suspect.
The college have launched a ‘stay safe’ policy to help prevent a another assault from occuring. Gardaí have increased their patrols through the AIT campus and have also issued warnings to first year students that they should remain vigilant at all times. Buses have been organised to take students from the campus to the town of Athlone.
A €10,000 reward has been offered by the Irish Crimestoppers Trust for information connected with the previous assaults.