MONTEREY, Calif. - A new tool is using the power of sound to help prevent sexual assault.
California State University Monterey Bay is giving out the lightweight, portable alarms to students and faculty members for free.
The battery-powered BASU eAlarm rings when the back plug is detached from the fob, letting out a loud siren.
"Not only does it alert others, but it's preventative in that the attacker is also caught off guard," said Mya Papolu, spokeswoman for BASU.com.
The alarm is another tool for students, especially women, to protect themselves.
Sophomore Lilli Krier is already well-equipped.
"I have Mace. I have pepper spray and I'm thinking of getting a Taser just because I have had a couple of incidents where I have been followed," Krier said.
Senior Gabriella Duran got one Tuesday to replace her going-away present.
"My freshman year, my parents give it to me, like their daughter is going away from school, so they gave me some pepper spray, but it actually got taken away at a sporting event," Duran said.
CSUMB has 3,100 eAlarms available at its Title IX office and they will also be given out during campus events.
"We were attracted to this device because it's so lightweight, and convenient, and user friendly, and it's nonviolent, so you can take it places you might not be able to take pepper spray or other deterrence,” said Noah Rappahahn, CSUMB spokesman.
Campus police said awareness is also key to staying safe.
"If you don't feel safe, walk with someone, call for a night walk, be aware of what's going on, around you, not looking down on your phone, have a clear sight to where you are walking," Police Chief Earl Lawson said.
The company said it's working on another model that will allow users to call 911 for help.
Not everyone is quite convinced about the devices, however. After viewing our story, the Monterey County Rape Crisis Center reached out to us saying the alarms are ineffective. They have issued this statement:
"KION recently ran a story on CSUMB distributing BASU alarms to students to prevent sexual assaults on campus. BASU alarms are small, plastic devices that let out a high-pitched loud sound that is supposed to startle attackers and alert nearby people to step in and help. We applaud CSUMB for taking steps to protect their students, however, there are two main problems with trying to address campus sexual assaults with such devices.
The first is that passing out alarms doesn’t address the reality of sexual assault. These devices would only be effective if people are being attacked in the open on their way to or from class or in other open spaces on campus. The narrative of sexual assaults being committed by strangers is a myth. The majority of sexual assaults are committed by people known to the survivor (70%) and these attacks often happen in our own homes (55%). We should be putting our energy and resources toward addressing the fact that so many feel entitled to our bodies rather than wasting resources on giving out devices that give the illusion of safety.
The second problem with these devices is that it puts the responsibility on survivors to prevent assaults rather than focusing on those who commit sexual assaults. We need to work on having our police departments take reports seriously and encouraging our DA offices to prosecute these cases. We should spend less time throwing weight behind outdated and ineffective methods and more time addressing what’s actually happening on campuses around the nation. Women should not be expected to modify their behavior or be on extra alert; we need to teach everyone to about consent and healthy relationships."