It was the first time Jeremy Flood had ever been punched in the face by a stranger. It wasn't the way he planned to start his time at Colorado College.
In October, the freshman film major was walking alone on campus, he says, "and a group of kids came up to me and asked if I had a cigarette. I said no. Then they asked if I had any marijuana, and I said no, and then they hit me twice."
The kids, who he figures were not CC students — "they gave off a different vibe" — chased him across the street as he ran for his dorm. "To make it worse," says the New Jersey native, "it was during Parents Weekend, and my mom was here."
The next day, he learned he had a dislocated jaw.
Flood's story has not been unusual this fall. A number of CC students have been assaulted on campus or in surrounding neighborhoods.
"I talked to one of the kids who got assaulted this weekend," Flood says, "and he had a similar story."
Ron Smith, CC director of Campus Safety, sent a mass e-mail Dec. 4 warning students that the college "is not a sanctuary from crime. We are located close to downtown Colorado Springs. Because of our proximity to the heart of the city, we cannot guarantee that all members of the CC community will be free from person attack. This level of absolute protection is unavailable anywhere."
The e-mail followed two assaults on campus the night before, near Tutt Library. In both attacks, Smith states in the e-mail, three people approached a lone student and asked for a cigarette, then attacked. The assailants were described as white, male, about 6 feet tall with short hair and wearing gray sweatshirts. According to the e-mail, police were contacted and opened investigations.
"We believe these are the same individuals who assaulted two students in October," Smith wrote in the e-mail. He hasn't returned a call for further comment.
Reports of crimes haven't been just limited to run-ins with thugs.
Thomas Ashley, a senior living off campus, was hosting a backyard party in late September for his fellow geology majors when, halfway into the evening, the keg went missing. "Everybody was having a good time, running around, and nobody was really watching the keg."
A few attendees said some kids had taken it inside. Instead, they'd come through his house, picked up the keg and walked out the front door with it. Ashley points out that they passed by two $1,200 laptops and a wallet with $60 in cash, adding, "They just wanted the beer."
He went to look for the keg.
"I skateboarded around my neighborhood for a little while," he says, until he found four kids standing around a tapped keg about a half-block away. "And I was like, 'Hey guys, where'd you get that?' And pretty much without any hesitation one of them punched me in the face, and I was on the ground."
Ashley got up and backed away, and five more joined the group. "They were 18 to 20 years old," he says, "but I was not really paying attention to what they looked like, 'cause I was more concerned with assessing the situation and the risk for me." He ran to his house and called police to report to the assault. About a half-hour later, he says, another CC senior was attacked near the college.
Mark Giannetti was walking home when he came upon a female student being harassed and threatened by three men. He wrote in an e-mail, "They were ... calling her 'slut,' 'whore' and suggesting that she was a prostitute and 'deserved whatever was about to happen to [her].'"
One man tried to wrestle the girl's cell phone away from her, then pushed her to the ground. Giannetti says he ran over and forced himself between the girl and the men. He says they knocked him to the ground, punching and kicking him until they were spooked by a nearby police car.