Student sexually harassed on Walnut Place

Student harassed on Walnut Place

DPS has yet to notify the university community of flashing incident late last night
Published: November 19, 2019
Instagram post regarding sexual harassment report on Walnut Place on Nov. 19, 2019.

Syracuse University junior Noel Bensalem was walking home from Bird Library when a man jumped out of his car naked in front of her.

At approximately 10:30 p.m., Bensalem was studying in the library when the shooting manifesto was airdropped to students. While it was never sent to her, the students around her received it and were talking about it, which scared her and she decided to go home before it got too late.

She assumed she was safe because there were officers and cars from the Department of Public Safety stationed at the library and further down in Walnut Park, but it was as she was about to cross Adams Street that she encountered a suspicious car.

“I see a car turn off their lights and a man got out of the car and had no shirt on. Then, he shut his car door and he was completely naked,” she said. “No underwear, no pants, no shirt on. He was completely naked.”

She described the man as having a “serial killer look” on his face because it was emotionless. He began to approach her and took a few steps forward without saying a word, she said.

“I hadn’t crossed the street yet so I pulled out my phone,” she said. “I was very traumatized and I tried to take a video of it.”

But once the man saw her phone, he quickly retreated to his car, she said, and began driving back towards campus, turning at the corner in front of Bird Library to come back down Walnut Place. Bensalem said she suddenly realized what had happened and began to scream as loud as she could and ran towards the DPS officers stationed near Hillel.

She said she showed up visibly upset and in hysterics and felt that the officers weren’t taking her concerns seriously because she wasn’t calm. She said she felt uncomfortable by their lack of empathy, but completed the reporting process with the officers, who walked her home.

When she arrived home, she called the Syracuse Police Department to file another complaint about the incident but was accused of not complying with DPS officers by the dispatcher. When the police showed up to her apartment, she said, they informed her that other students on campus were aware of the situation through word of mouth because the man had been spotted driving around proximal to campus. The police could not catch him.

When following up with DPS Tuesday morning, Bensalem was told that they weren’t if or when the student body would be notified of the incident and that they never found the man. Bensalem, after encouragement from her peers, posted about her experience on Instagram, and the post has garnered more than 15,000 engagements.

“It’s really terrifying as a Syracuse female student, especially given what else has been happening,” she said. “It puts more importance on why the university should tell us because even though it’s not a racial incident, it’s still threatening.”

She said that she posted for the sake of other students on campus so that others can know what happened and that the perpetrator is still on the loose. She described him as white, in his early twenties, skinny, with brown, curly hair and approximately 5’8″ tall.

“I think it’s important that the university and the community know about this,” she said. “The more time that nobody knows about this, the more time that he could do it to someone else.”