ALLENDALE (WWJ/AP) – The president of Grand Valley State University says he feels “devastated” by four sexual assaults near campus and calls the recent series of attacks a “cancer.”

Thomas Haas told WOOD-TV that everyone must be vigilant and “really take care of each other.” The fourth assault of female Grand Valley students was reported Tuesday night outside off-campus apartments. The first occurred on Aug. 26.

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Meanwhile, more than 100 people attended a public safety forum Thursday at the Allendale campus, including the president, students, faculty and police.

Speaking at the forum, Haas said investigators both in and around the campus are working to find those responsible for the assaults.

“We do know that the perpetrator is the one that’s really responsible for this, but we at Grand Valley need to take our collective responsibilities for the safety and security of our students no matter where they are,” he said.

Grand Valley officials are urging students to check in with friends more frequently, participate in ride shares and walk in groups.

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Police believe the attacks probably are connected, but they haven’t made a definitive conclusion.

Haas said he’s taking the crimes personally.

“Our students are part of my collective family,” he said. “I’m a dad, I’m a grand-dad, and when you hear of these circumstances on-campus, off-campus (happening) to our students, it does impact us personally. And so, I’m devastated, actually.”

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