On Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2019, a Stevenson student was asked to answer a faith-based survey by an elderly black woman in the School of Business parking lot. The woman was not a member of faculty or staff, and was reported to Stevenson security.
A security guard then escorted the unnamed woman off campus, as solicitors are not allowed on private college campuses. Greg Cullison, Stevenson’s head of security, sent out a campus-wide email detailing the incident and encouraging students that if they see something, to say something.
“Stevenson Campus Security has received reports of individuals not associated with Stevenson University approaching students and employees, claiming to represent businesses and organizations and selling products or conducting surveys,” the email read. “As always, we encourage you to be aware of your surroundings and if you see something, say something so that Campus Security can respond or assist.”
Rumors soon spread among students that the solicitor who prompted the email was linked to a sex-trafficking ring off-campus, and a tense atmosphere arose on campus.
“I received a text from a girl that I worked with last semester on a group project,” said Nya Medley, a junior psychology major at Stevenson. “She said that she heard from her friend that a girl was confronted by a lady trying to run a sex-trafficking scam, and told me and our other group members to be careful.”
While rumors began to circulate throughout campus, Cullison denied the substance of the rumors and said that security does not have the evidence to substantiate the claims. His team, however, interviewed the students who had brought the solicitor to their attention.
“There was no evidence to suggest there was any sex-trafficking nexus from the solicitors. We have had solicitors over the years, and it is against policy for them to have a presence here, as it is a safety issue,” Cullison said.
The email was sent to the students as a precaution, since prior to this incident, a Mary Kay representative was selling beauty products on campus. The email was meant to remind students to be more aware of their surroundings, be good witnesses, and call security if there was any suspicious activity from an individual who may not belong on campus.
According to Cullison, being a “good witness” consists of taking notes of the situation–where the individual was, what they were wearing, where they were heading, and what was going on. This information will assist security in addressing the situation.
Cullison also encouraged students to stop by the security office, located in the Ratcliffe Community Center, and get to know members of the security team. “We are all a part of security,” Cullison said. “We all work together to make campus a safer place, and the better we trust one another, the safer this campus will be.”
Those who see someone or something suspicious on campus should alert campus security immediately at 443-352-4500, campus extension 4500, or in person at the office in the Ratcliffe Community Center.