By Tori Pender
Alexa Goyden, a junior double major in communications studies and acting, has been stalked during her college career.
During her sophomore year, Goyden was in a year-long relationship with a non-Rider student. Goyden said, “I was being stalked right after I broke up with him.”
She continued, “I didn’t realize it at the time, as it just seemed like someone who just couldn’t get over a breakup, but in late October, it escalated really fast, and that’s when I realized something was wrong.”
Stalking offenses are not uncommon at Rider; from 2018 through 2020, there were seven incidents on campus.
All statistics in this report were obtained from the campus safety report, under The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. All colleges and universities that receive federal aid must disclose annual campus crime statistics.
Rider Associate Vice President Kristine Brown said in an email, “As a community, we do not condone harassment or discrimination of any kind, including stalking. We also take allegations of crimes such as stalking very seriously.”
Even though Goyden’s ex-boyfriend was not a Rider student, he lived nearby in Ewing, New Jersey.
Goyden explained that since her classes were virtual at that time, her safety on campus was not a concern until the fall 2021 semester.
When comparing Rider to other colleges and universities in Mercer County like The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Princeton and Thomas Edison State University, Rider data compares to TCNJ, with seven offenses from 2018 to 2020.
Meanwhile, Princeton had eight offenses and Thomas Edison State University had zero during the same time.
Chelsea Jacoby, TCNJ’s Title IX coordinator said, “TCNJ’s Office of Title IX and Sexual Misconduct and the Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives have developed a number of resources and efforts around increasing students’ awareness on how to identify stalking behaviors, how to safely and effectively communicate boundaries and intervene if necessary.”
Princeton and Thomas Edison State University officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Brown explained, “We put a lot of effort into educating our community about these types of issues, as well as offering comprehensive support and resources.”
Goyden debated having law enforcement involved when she started receiving multiple phone calls a day and threatening messages involving mentions of suicide and murder.
“Everything just kinda kept pushing, like ‘we gotta do it.’ But we [her parents and her] kept putting it off because finals were coming up,” explained Goyden.
When she arrived home at the end of the 2021 spring semester, “He showed up at my house, uninvited and unannounced,” said Goyden.
When he arrived, he repeatedly tried to enter the locked house.
Goyden explained, “Right after that, I went straight to the police department and was like ‘I need a restraining order, please help.’”
For Goyden, this situation will soon be behind her, as of March 6, a temporary restraining order (TRO) was enforced. Rider Public Safety has a copy of the TRO, along with a photo of her ex, in case anything were to happen while Goyden is at Rider. On April 5, Goyden won her case, granting a restraining order against her ex-boyfriend.
“When I was being stalked, it was immense fear, all the time. Now it’s like, sometimes fear,” said Goyden.
Brown said, “At Rider, we have been very thoughtful in how we can bring increased awareness to issues such as stalking, including educating our campus community on warning signs, how to report an issue and where to turn for help. Education is really the most important step all universities can take to raise awareness and understanding of these important issues.”