Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve received several Public Safety crime alerts on campus involving sexual assaults. Although not typical of the UM campus, after speaking to friends of mine attending other schools, I realize this type of crime is common on college campuses. However, I’m still concerned. I’m a commuter student who’s on campus all the time: day and night. I need to protect myself. I don’t want to become a statistic. And I definitely don’t have time to fill out a lengthy police report. Any suggestions?
Trying to Stay Safe
Your friends are right – it is common for college campuses to experience some strange behavior. And believe me, we’ve had some pretty strange things happen on campus lately! Anyway, try the following to help yourself feel and be safer:
First, if you’re ever afraid while walking alone, use the telephone polls with blue lights on top of them that connect directly to Public Safety and identify the location of the caller if he/she can’t speak.
Use the phones to report suspicious behavior or obtain information.
You also can use it to request a security escort, usually student security guards who will escort you and chat all the way to wherever you need to go.
Both men and women are encouraged to request escorts.
Don’t forget that the blue-light phones can also be used to access MAP [Motorist Assistance Program] to jump-start cars, unlock vehicles and temporarily fix flat tires.
There are more than 70 blue-light phones on campus.
Second, consider self-defense classes. I realize this may sound rather boring, but self-defense provides students with the skills and confidence to respond to an attack.
The Wellness Center, in conjunction with Public Safety, offers Rape Aggression Defense [RAD], a 12-hour, comprehensive self-defense course for women, as well as, SAFE, its two-hour, abbreviated counterpart.
The Wellness Center also teaches a co-ed Okinawa Karate class and oversees the Karate Club.
Also, a newly developed six-week, co-ed self-defense course will be available in a couple weeks.
Call the Wellness Center at 8-LIFE for details about these programs.
If you go through the program, you will increase your chances of escaping from an attacker. The programs have also been known to increase self-esteem and confidence.
Who wouldn’t feel better after learning tips on fighting off and outsmarting a criminal?
Right now, the buzz on campus is to watch out for assaults by strangers; however, acquaintance and date rape are much more of a problem among college students.
PIER 21 Center for Alcohol and Other Drugs and Bacchus & Gamma are constantly educating students to control their substance use.
More than 85 percent of acquaintance and date rapes involve substances.
For more information, contact PIER 21 at 8-6120.
Additionally, the residence halls offer programs on sexual assault prevention throughout the year. Ask your RA if a related presentation is scheduled for your floor or building.
Finally, if you or a friend are caught off-guard and an unfortunate incident occurs, the best resource is the Counseling Center’s Sexual Assault Response Team, more commonly known as SART. Specially trained professionals or advocates from UM man the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The phone call is confidential.
Advocates impart guidance on handling the situation and referrals to other professionals. All students should know the SART line number, 305-796-6666.
Write it down.
Javonne Stewart is a freshman majoring in English. She works in the Wellness Suite of the Wellness Center.