I am a reasonably intelligent, healthy 20 year-old female living on campus. I don’t claim to be a genius, nor do I claim any super human skills in the realms of self-defense. I have never taken a martial arts class, and all rational thought aside, I definitely would panic if I were ever attacked, so I take precautions. In fact, many members of this editorial board can attest to a lovely evening or 20 spent walking or driving my carless-self home.
That being said, the recent paranoia gripping so many females on college campuses is beginning to drive me crazy. The tragedies that have been inflicted on college students are horrific, and violence towards innocent students on campus is a terrifying prospect that does justify action, both on the parts of campus police and administrations, as well as individuals. But where do we draw the line?
Recently I have been warned not do any of the following, out of fear for my precious safety and virtue: do not walk home unescorted, as you might be attacked or raped. Do not walk home with just one guy, as he might attack or rape you; do not call a taxi, as the service you get connected to might be false, and they might attack you; and do not drive home alone at night, as someone hiding in or under your car might attack you.
Unfortunately, I don’t have an entourage of well-trained ninja-females willing to walk me home and guarantee my safety, so it seems I will just have to learn to sleep at the library.
But even the library isn’t safe. Last spring in health I learned of a student (I don’t remember if it was Tech or not) who was attacked by her study partner at the library. Furthermore, the library has elevators, which if you believe my mother, should be permanently added to the “root of all evil” list and avoided at all costs. Because you see, much like getting home, elevators place one in a complete conundrum of danger.
Young ladies are never to ride in elevators alone, as you don’t know what will happen on the floors between your origin and destination, a horrible person could get on and attack you (if there are no floors between you and your destination, then my mother’s advice does not apply to you, as she would simply inform you to use the stairs, assuming they are well lit and occupied by the well-trained female ninja protectors mentioned earlier). You are also however, never to get onto the elevator with a man or group of men that you don’t know, as again, they are dangerous.
In a final caveat to the elevator safety plan, one should never stand around in the lobby loitering waiting for the perfect elevator companions either, as you could be seen as easy prey and then… you get the picture. Basically, elevators should be removed from all buildings and female students should be given teleportation powers so that they can swiftly and safely arrive in their rooms without ever running the risk of encountering a male with ill-intent.
Now, assuming that a student of reasonable intelligence and health has managed to navigate the complexities of traveling across campus and using elevators, he or more likely, she, still faces imminent danger in locations such as public rest rooms (Oprah did an entire episode a while back on the various ways that criminals can steal your purse while you use the ladies room, it was horrifying), busses and the most bizarre location of all, near shrubbery (thanks to the Marietta college campus police force for that one).
This is just a sampling of the litany of helpful advice that I am solicited with on a daily basis, completely uninvited I might add. Students of Tech, other women of Tech, I am just going to say it. Shrubbery is not dangerous. Public rest rooms, the library and elevators are all not dangerous. The advice we are given on appropriate safe conduct has become ridiculous.
Campus safety is a serious issue, but rather than focusing on the steps that the victims should have to take to limit their lives so as to remain safe, campus safety should be an exercise in deterrence.
Walking home alone at night does not cause attacks, criminals cause attacks. Students, and yes, especially female students should be smart, and should listen to that internal voice of paranoia, but at the end of the day, you have to get home somehow, and you are probably going to walk by shrubbery, use elevators, or get in a car to do so.
So go. At the risk of sounding like G.W., don’t let the scary bad men win. Be smart, but be rational, as really, if you followed all the rules of safety you would end up sitting alone in your room with a machete.