Western Courier

SGA hands out safety whistles to women

Dan Morton

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For the second consecutive semester, safety whistles will be handed out to on- and off-campus female students by the Student Government Association in conjunction with the Office of Public Safety.The Whistle Program, which began last spring, is designed to provide women with safety whistles, which when utilized in an attack situation could provide those extra seconds needed to find an area of safety.

“One of the best things to do in an attack situation, especially on a college campus, is to draw attention to yourself, which is the last thing an attacker wants,” Rachel Black, SGA Student Services Committee chair, said. “One of the best ways to do that is by making a lot of noise, which is where the safety whistles come in, and then running like hell to a safe area or to a blue light.”

Black added that the whistles are not meant to provide women with a false sense of security, but rather a means by which they can further protect themselves on and off campus.

In addition, women must also take other precautions concerning their safety, such as not walking alone at night.

“It is not a foolproof method against crime, but if an incident does occur, they (women) will be able to call attention to it,” Matt Bills, Student Government Association president, said. “The primary purpose is to give students a tool so they will feel more comfortable on campus.”

Last semester, 1,941 whistles were distributed to on-campus women’s residence hall mailboxes, as well as several hundred whistles to off-campus women. This semester, SGA will hand out whistles Friday in the University Union Concourse to both on- and off-campus women from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. It must be noted that students will need to have their student identification cards in order to receive their whistles.

In addition, if a student received a whistle last year and still has it, SGA requests that a student does not take another one, as there are those who have not yet received theirs. Also, there are a limited number of whistles due to funding, which is provided by OPS.

Black worked with former OPS Director Greg Roepke to implement the plan last year.

“The program went well last year,” Bills said. “I have seen a number of students carrying them around on keychains.”

Black also stressed the importance of student cooperation and support in making the program a success.

“It is important that students play an active role in the implementation of the program,” Black said. “If a student hears a whistle, he or she is to find a phone and call OPS.”

Black said students must also avoid the temptation of using the whistles for fun. She added that students could get into trouble for using them for anything other than an emergency.

“These whistles are not meant to be used for fun,” Black said. “If someone blows a whistle in a false situation, that person can be brought up on charges through the Student Judicial Programs. If it draws an officer away from another situation, that person can be brought up for obstruction of justice.”

If a man wants a whistle, he can get one, but priority goes to the women as “almost 90 percent of acquaintance rape survivors are women, while 10 percent are men,” Black said.

If a woman does not get one Friday, she can call the SGA office at (309) 298-3243 and ask for one. If anyone has any specific questions, they can call the SGA office and ask for Black.

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SGA hands out safety whistles to women