A look into the ‘Rape Trail:’ Police report zero incidents, students emphasize sensitive language

Kalamazoo junior Cortney Bos walks down the “Rape Trail” the path from the Campus Habitat Apartments to the Towers residence halls, Tuesday afternoon. Local law enforcement have said that no documented assaults have been reported on the trail. (Samantha Madar/Staff Photographer)

Kalamazoo junior Cortney Bos walks down the “Rape Trail” the path from the Campus Habitat Apartments to the Towers residence halls, Tuesday afternoon. Local law enforcement have said that no documented assaults have been reported on the trail. (Samantha Madar/Staff Photographer)

Amelia Mansfield was horrified when the start of her life at Central Michigan University was met with rumors about the infamous “Rape Trail.”

Stretching from the Campus Habitat Apartments to the Towers residence halls, the trail has been rumored to be the scene of sexual assaults each year, despite no reports of incidents being filed in that area.

“It’s kind of a scary thing, being a girl on a college campus and hearing that kind of rumor,” Mansfield said. “I wish people would be more sensitive.”

The Royal Oak freshman said she has friends who live nearby the trail, and although she hasn’t heard of any assaults, the location itself sets off alarms.

“It is a creepy place,” she said. “Everyone walks down there. My friends live in the apartments and they haven’t heard anything about rapes.”

A popular Twitter feed, @Renamethetrail, was started earlier this semester by CMU students, suggesting the name be changed to be more sensitive to victims of sexual assault.

While local law enforcement admits personal awareness might be more important in the heavily obscured trail, no assaults have been reported.

“We have never had a documented incident in that area,” said Mount Pleasant Police Public Information Officer Jeff Thompson. “We’ve never even heard of it being called the ‘Rape Trail.’ We’ve not even found a wallet or any property. There’s just nothing there.”

Thompson said the rumor could have been inspired by low visibility in the trail, especially at night. He said regardless of the reality, students walking there need to stay aware.

“I would have to imagine (the name) stemmed from an urban legend,” Thompson said. “If there is any fear it that area, it is unfounded. It is a dark, unlit area. Don’t put yourself in that situation. Travel in groups and maintain your awareness of what is around you.”

The land the trail sits on is owned by Mount Pleasant Public Schools and is nearby Vowles Elementary School.

Assistant Superintendent to MPPS Jennifer Verleger said she is unaware of any incidents, but that MPPS will collaborate with law enforcement to make possible improvements to the area.

“What we would do is work with police to identify improvements that could be made,” Verleger said. “Our interest is to make students safe. Whether our students, or from CMU, we want to make everyone safe. We maybe need to look into better lighting and fencing.”

Verleger suggested late-night walkers might even consider avoiding the trail in the dark of night.

“Try to be aware, walk with someone,” she said. “As responsible adults, we need to keep each other safe. Maybe late at night, that’s not the best place to walk.”

Rochester junior Leanne Mayes agrees. She said she never walks the trail alone, regardless of any official reports. She has walked the trail with friends to get to class quickly, but never goes alone.

“I wouldn’t walk there at night,” Mayes said. “It’s definitely not a place to be by myself, myth or not.”

Mayes stressed the importance of being sensitive when students engage in gossip related to sexual assaults. She hopes the trail will be renamed to take the crimes more seriously.

“(Rape) is something that is serious,” Mayes said. “They shouldn’t make jokes. It’s a sensitive subject.”



  1. The police are so ignorant when they release comments such as the ones featured in this article. “Don’t put yourself in that situation”, as if any woman ever has put herself in a situation to be raped. How about we tell rapists not to rape instead of blaming women for not traveling in a group of people or being in a well lit area?

    • You’re ignorant on the proper way to use the word ignorant and when to apply it.

      Godforbid the police try to inform people so they might be less IGNORANT on staying safe.
      For you officers out there, follow Tori”s advice and don’t give any tips. So women can stay IGNORANT.

  2. Oh good lord CM-Life, you’ve done it again. Your blatant disregard for the actual picture here really amazes me. As someone who’s part of the #RenameTheTrail campaign I really have to sit here and wonder if EVERYONE missed our point this widely or if it’s a special breed. We are fully aware of the lack of historical records of rapes or sexual assault occurring on this piece of land. However, by calling it the “rape trail”, you are demeaning and trivializing what survivors of rape endured. Calling it the “rape trail” is essentially the same as being like “that exam just raped me,” or a rape joke (which isn’t funny, if you weren’t sure). The idea behind #RenameTheTrail is to end the ideas of sexual assault and rape culture, not to literally rename a piece of property.

    Also, we should probably avoid publishing statements that are relevant to victim blaming. “Don’t put yourself in that situation.” Let me take a quick survey of rape survivors and see if they were “trying” to put themselves in that situation. Yeah, the answer is no. Victim blaming only adds to issue that is rape culture. Sadly, I’m willing to take bets that if a rape did occur on this trail, the first things in your report would be that he or she was walking alone late at night and shouldn’t have been doing that, was wearing something provocative, or was intoxicated.. yet none of that matters, because it’s not their fault.

    So, thanks for bringing #RenameTheTrail back to the forefront, but please, do us a favor and try to have a little sensitivity next time.

    • Yeah…here’s the thing…people find many different things funny…and you’re nobody in this world to dictate that. You pride yourself on speaking up but you want to squash others rights on what they can say or the joke they found funny. The Third Reich fell long ago.

      Now, you and I both know you can’t rename that and all you did was making a joke that people will drunkenly yell out as they walk down the trail and now others will keep calling it that to piss people like you off.

      Congrats, you and your other bonehead bretheren have made a true mockery of sexual assualt by being way over the top cartoonish, fanning the flames for people to joke.

  3. “Don’t put yourself in that situation?”
    Not everyone can get a group together to walk home from class. How dare somebody say that it’s the person’s fault if they get raped. That’s victim blaming.

    Why don’t you say “Don’t rape.” or “Don’t sexually assult anyone.” It’s not the people walking alone who created this name. It’s the people who have done the sexual assulting.


    • They have told people not to rape. They’re these things we have in the USA called “Laws.” I know, you’re confused, but I’ll explain it.

      See with laws, we say, for instance “We dont tolerate rape, so no raping people and if you do rape we will punish you.”

      Now the whole “Don’t put yourself in a situation” is coming from people who live their lives on that credo because if a cop isn’t always on A Game, he or his partner or you or anyone could get hurt or worse.

      So while you and tori are screaming for sensitivity how abou you practice not being overly sensitive to every little thing that doesn’t fit your pc world

  4. This is a touchy one but what the hell. I don’t believe suggesting that people be aware of their surroundings is the same as saying they were asking for it. How can we make suggestions about protecting yourself or avoiding any crime, or accident for that matter, without it being taken as victim blaming? Is warning my daughter about the dangers of rape and how to reduce the chances the same as me saying ‘if you get raped now, it’s your fault’? If that’s the case then how do I attempt to protect her?

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