Find safety in self-defense

Students should consider all of their options, including self-defense items, when it comes to their safety.

Luis Ruuska

With sundown creeping up earlier each day, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel unnerved walking through campus at nightfall.

Due to the recent string of robberies and burglaries and a sexual assault that occurred on or near campus during the past few months, I can’t be alone in my nighttime walking anxieties.

In his Oct. 30 letter to the editor, University police Chief Greg Hestness stressed that the crime rate is at a historical low.

This doesn’t exactly put my mind at ease. Many of the recent crimes on or near campus seem to have been perpetrated by the same person or people and in similar fashions. Some recent victims were even in groups when they were robbed.

Despite security measures like the Security Monitor Program, 20 Code Blue Phones and 2,300 around-the-clock security cameras installed on campus, students are still being caught off guard.

So what more can we do?

Students should assess all of their options and consider investing in self-defense items if their lifestyle has them out and about at night.

After University police released the first fall semester crime alert, I purchased a Swiss Army knife.

Admittedly, I have only used the knife in mundane situations, but I am surprised at how much more secure I feel knowing it’s in my pocket, and in the event of an attack, I might not be entirely defenseless.

But a pocket knife is not the only self-defense option students have. You may be surprised at what’s permitted on campus.

Per the University of Minnesota Board of Regents’ possession and weapons policy, students are entitled to carry any sort of weapon, excluding firearms or other dangerous weapons, as defined by Minnesota law. These other weapons include metal knuckles, automatic switchblades and flammable liquids.

It’s important to note that most students support keeping firearms off campuses as well. Seventy-eight percent of students surveyed at 15 Midwestern public colleges opposed concealed weapons on college campuses, according to a recent study published in the Journal of College Health.

However, common — and no less effective — self-defense items such as pepper spray, Taser guns and small knives are permitted on or off campus. These are also approachable investments students may want to consider to feel safe.

A quick search on Amazon.com yields a plethora of inexpensive but high-quality self-defense products designed to fit safely and inconspicuously on key rings for easy access.

A self-defense weapon isn’t right for everybody. Students should question why they need one of these items and what makes them feel safe. However, there are other options for self-defense beyond the pocket security device.

University police offer a number of self-defense classes as well as links to external student groups that practice self-defense techniques.

I’m confident that University police and the University as a whole have been doing their best to keep campus safe, but they ultimately can only do so much. Self-defense is also about your peace of mind when UMPD isn’t there or when you don’t feel safe. By taking a proactive interest in their own safety, students can help make campus safer for us all.