Wake up students of Southwestern University: you’re not indestructible. Murders don’t just happen to strangers at other colleges.
Abductions don’t just happen to little girls walking home alone from school. Whether you’re male or female, 4 feet 11 inches or 6 feet 4 inches tall, it’s past time to start paying attention.
After the violent slaying of Yale graduate student Annie Le, renewed attention has been brought to campus safety. Yale University President Richard C. Levin said in a recent press release, “This incident could have happened in any city, in any university, or in any workplace. It says more about the dark side of the human soul than it does about the extent of security measures.” There is only so much our 24-hour campus police, faculty and administration can do to keep us safe. The rest is up to the students to use a little common sense.
“Resident halls are locked 24 hours a day, but it’s only as safe as the students keep it,” campus Chief of Police Deborah Brown stated. “Just like Yale, academic buildings are a vulnerable place.” Brown stressed the importance of student vigilance. “There seems to be this assumed bubble over Southwestern University…this is a state road,” she said, pointing to University Avenue. “I-35 is a mile away. We don’t have walls and we don’t have gates to keep people locked out. Students need to call to report things that don’t seem or look right. Those eyes out there are what we need.”
The general student consensus is that the campus is a relatively safe place. “I feel safe here, probably more than I should,” sophomore Nora Maus said. “Once, I was walking to the print lab at four in the morning by myself and then I realized that was kind of weird. I was just like, ‘Oh well, I’ve got to print this.’”
First-year Amy Beaman feels the same. “Even when I’m out late at night, I feel pretty secure, especially within the main campus area. I feel like Georgetown is a safe place to start with, and when you’re on campus there’s just not a whole lot of outside activity. It’s mainly a lot of students, and I feel safe among students.”
Chief Brown emphasized the importance of safety in numbers – and not wandering around by yourself at odd times of night. “Crimes of opportunity are everywhere. The number one way we can keep crime down on this campus is to share responsibility and share safety.” She also highlighted the necessity of taking personal responsibility. “We worry about our friends and our roommates…we reach out to everyone else. We need to take a little time to give ourselves permission to think about our own safety. “
Account for where you are at all times. Tell your roommate where you’re going, even if it makes them seem like your mother. Try to give an estimated time of arrival back home and keep in contact with them during your absence if possible. As dark as it sounds, this way police will know where you last were if you disappear.
“Assess where you are,” Brown warned. “Use common sense. Make sure no one is following behind you, keep your keys laced between your fingers so that you can use them as a weapon if necessary, and even if you’re frightened, look confident.”
If you see someone that you know walking alone, offer to walk with them. If your roommate is going to the science building at midnight, walk with them, no matter how tired you are. Don’t walk down deserted hallways in the Fine Arts Building at one o’clock in the morning and don’t go pirate biking at three.
“Take ownership of your safety,” Chief Brown cautioned. “Safety in numbers is always just the bottom line.”