Michigan State University freshman wants more done to protect students after attack near campus

Attack happened during sorority rush week

A freshman at Michigan State University said she was attacked near campus and even though she got away, she is worried about the safety of other students. The attack happened during sorority rush week in the area of Burcham Drive and Abbot Road in East Lansing. Shira Ellis, 18, thinks more should have been done to protect students during sorority rush week.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – A freshman at Michigan State University said she was attacked near campus and even though she got away, she is worried about the safety of other students.

The attack happened during sorority rush week in the area of Burcham Drive and Abbot Road in East Lansing. Shira Ellis, 18, thinks more should have been done to protect students during sorority rush week.

“I was doing rush for sorority and for Greek life,” Ellis said. “I was walking with friends, but she had to turn to go to a different sorority.”

Ellis said she was five minutes away from where she was going when a man ran up behind her and attacked her. She wants other students to keep their guard up.

“He grabbed my hips and pulled me to him and lifted my dress and started grabbing me,” Ellis said. “He was six-three and stronger than me.”

Ellis said she is pretty strong and was able to get away, but she did fall and hit her head.

“Then I ran to the sorority I had to be and they helped me,” Ellis said.

East Lansing police were called and Ellis did make a report. She also shared what happened to her on Snapchat, “Last night I was sexually assaulted while walking during rush. Walk in groups. Always have your pepper spray.”

Ellis said she put the information out on social media so that if anyone else experienced something similar they would feel comfortable talking to her and so people would be aware.

She feels more should have been done to protect students who were walking from campus to the sorority houses.

“I do believe that it should have been way safer of, like, having a bus or anything like transportation for the girls that are going to these houses that are anything from 15 minutes to 45 minutes away. So, I don’t know, I think it’s pretty dangerous,” Ellis said.

Now Ellis walks with a whistle and a Taser.

“I’ve just been super anxious, kind of walking around with fear,” Ellis said.

The case is under investigation and no arrests have been made.

“The Panhellenic Council, which is a student led group made up of students from participating fraternity and sorority organizations and advised by our full-time Fraternity and Sorority Life Staff is responsible for planning recruitment activities. Each year, this team typically reserves busses to transport potential new members around East Lansing on a pre-set route. Due to the current national labor shortage, no bus providers in the Mid-Michigan region were able to provide this service this year. In response, we worked with Panhellenic Council to secure a team of more than 70 guides to help potential new members get to their destinations safely during these recruitment events. Specifically, the team of guides rotated through shifts and there were 30 guides each day assigned to walk with groups of participants during these events.

In addition to this action, each year MSU provides a number of programs related to sexual assault and misconduct prevention, including mandatory yearly programming for all students.

Greeks Take the Lead is an additional program required for all fraternity and sorority chapters that are also registered student organizations. This programming empowers students by providing further education on how they can intervene and end sexual violence within their community. All members of these organizations are also required to complete one of the member sessions.”

Visit https://poe.msu.edu/programs/greeks.html for more information.

MSU Deputy Spokesperson Dan Olsen

About the Authors:

Karen Drew is the anchor of Local 4 News First at 4, weekdays at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. She is also an award-winning investigative reporter.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.