HANOVER — A Dartmouth College junior’s request to carry a concealed gun on campus to protect herself from a stalker has been denied.
Taylor Woolrich, 20, of San Diego has taken to Fox News to express her position and concern for her safety.
“Over the last four years, I have lived with the constant threat from a stalker — a stalker who is now in jail for the third time for violating a restraining order,” she wrote in an Aug. 6 op-ed posted online by Fox News. “Every day I live with these questions: What if today is the day that my stalker posts bail? What if today is the day that he discovers my parents’ new address? What if I go to a lecture on campus and he shows up there?”
In an email Tuesday, Diana Lawrence, director of media relations at Dartmouth College’s Office of Public Affairs, said that because of federal privacy laws, Dartmouth cannot comment on an individual student’s situation.
Dartmouth has released a statement defending its policy on weapons.
“The safety and security of all Dartmouth students is a top priority. Any student who reports being stalked is provided with individualized attention and heightened protection. If there are improvements to our security services that we can make, we will. Like the vast number of colleges and universities across the country, Dartmouth has a policy that prohibits handguns on campus. ... All Dartmouth students are part of a tight-knit community. We do everything we can to support and care for our students so that their time on campus is safe and productive.”
Woolrich said her “nightmare” started four years ago when she was 16 and working at a café in San Diego. Richard Bennett, 67, came in the store for coffee one day. “He kept coming back, staring at me for long periods of time, and trying to flirt. He then would sit outside the store for the entire day,” she wrote. “The nightmare soon got much worse. He followed me around outside of work, demanding to talk and saying that he was ‘trying to protect [me],’ then he began bothering my friends. Security had to remove him from scholarship pageants that I participated in, and he attempted to attack my then-boyfriend in high school. I was forced to take out a restraining order.”
Bennett is currently in jail and facing trial for another restraining order violation.
“In June of this year, I returned home to San Diego from Dartmouth College and early the very next morning, Bennett was at my door, wanting to talk,” she wrote. “He was arrested and police searched his car. They discovered what police call a ‘rape kit,’ including rope tied as a slip noose, a knife, gloves, and other items. When police got the warrant, they found my pictures all over Bennett’s house as well as illegally obtained guns.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Bennett has proclaimed his innocence and remains in jail in lieu of $300,000 bail.