Western Courier

Campus safety is still an important issue at WIU

Holly M. Anderson

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When I came to WIU three years ago, I had no idea what to expect. It was my first time away from home for such a long period.My overprotective father had warned me to be cautious. He explained that sometimes when people are away from home for the first time, they do things that ordinarily would be unacceptable. My dad was worried that I wouldn’t use common sense, that everything my parents tried to teach me over the years would be out the window once I got to school.

The week before I left, my uncle, who’s a fireman, gave me a mammoth can of mace. By the time I finally arrived on campus, I was totally paranoid.

Looking back, I’m glad I was a little on the defensive. Being cautious helped me to make educated decisions, like not walking alone at night.

Sitting on my balcony last Friday I witnessed a scary trend: freshman girls walking home alone.

Early in the evening, herds of students were making their way to off-campus parties that they’d most likely heard about through chalk invitations on the sidewalks.

Long streams of students passed below where I live, unsure of the street they were looking for and probably not knowing what to expect once they got there. Most of us are familiar with the freshman weekend walk.

I’d left for a while and as I was making my way home, I noticed that the groups of people had disappeared and scattered individuals now lined the streets. Most of the individuals walking alone were female.

As a freshman, the only reason I didn’t walk alone was because my father told me not to. WIU seems like it would be a safe campus and for the most part it is, but it’s important for us to be cautious. In the years that I’ve gone to school here there have been several attacks, the most recent occurring last semester. To my knowledge, the attacker was never apprehended. This is a college campus and problems do exist.

As I drove home Friday, a part of me wanted to stop and pick up every person that was walking home alone and those who were running. Another part of me hoped students wouldn’t accept a ride from a stranger; after all, they didn’t know where I was coming from or if I had been drinking. I felt bad for not stopping that night, but I felt even worse that a situation would exist where I would have to stop.

I remember being new here. The last thing I wanted to do was bother someone for a ride, but I hope students who find themselves on campus after dark or who happen to be at organizational meetings late won’t feel embarrassed to ask around for a ride home. If I happen to be sitting on my balcony this weekend, I’ll expect to see far less lone individuals. You know who you are.

Be safe this weekend – stay with the group you walked to the party with or call a friend for a ride.

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Campus safety is still an important issue at WIU