In 2015, I graduated high school and started college. in 2019, I walked across the stage and earned my bachelor’s degree. In that four-year time span, hundreds of things happened. Some were amazing and memorable. Others were not so great, sometimes downright frightening.
I remember one instance where I was walking home from the heart of campus at the very start of my freshman year of college. Two students were playing with a skateboard and I was walking by, using my cell phone contacting my family or listening to music. One of the students mentioned out loud that perhaps I had gotten some of the footage of them playing with the skateboard on camera.
Normally, people would laugh at that. However, I didn’t find it funny. I was genuinely worried that these people would want to do something atrocious to me. Things did not get easier as time went on. I had an evening class my first semester, which meant having to head home in the dark and pray nothing bad happened to me. Someone allegedly was almost kidnapped from a residence hall, and I can only imagine just how frightening that had to have been.
There is no way I can count the number of times I was notified about muggings, assaults, or vehicle/bicycle vandalism on the university campus during these four years. Two other incidents I remember very clearly are a bomb threat on campus and someone being slain at their own birthday party.
One of the scariest moments of my college career was heading out at night to deliver a work time sheet to a friend. My friend never answered their phone when I tried to get to them and my phone battery died before I cold get the sheet to them. Worst of all, my keys and pepper spray got locked in my apartment. I was very vulnerable, a target of opportunity. There was no way for me to defend myself, and no way to call for help. It was upsetting and I’m still grateful nothing bad happened.
The second scariest was taking out the trash at my job my last semester. I made sure to carry my pepper spray because the dumpster/alley was in a scary place. I have had to fear for my safety frequently throughout my time as a student and it was upsetting. It has affected my feelings of safety during sundown and my job availability. I have had to carry two canisters of pepper spray on my person because I was terrified. Even during broad daylight, I feared for my safety and my life.
There were amazing resources, such as a university ride-sharing service (kind of like Uber or Lyft, but the university’s version) and a service where students will walk you across campus. While I am blessed these services are available to anyone who needs them, it bothers me so much that people have to fear for their safety. I do hope that there will be much better safety education for the students and staff at the university, as well as the community. The word about these services, and how to protect yourself and the consequences of committing crimes, need to be spread far and wide. Enough is enough.