With at least three separate assault incidents occurring last weekend, students are becoming more wary than ever when walking outside at night. While walking with a group of friends is the stressed way to stay safe, it also is very apparent that these assaults happen even to those who are not alone. The University should be giving students more guidelines than that.
The University Police Department offers some good information – mostly common sense, but it is always good to be reminded. Make an effort to walk on the busier streets such as University Avenue, Fourth Street, Como, and 15th Avenue in Dinkytown. The sidewalks there are illuminated by streetlights and there are businesses open that attract people and deter crime. Try to use these sidewalks for as long as you can before stepping off into the darkness of those that aren’t as busy.
Do what you need to do to feel safe. Carry pepper spray with you and keep it somewhere that you could actually get at if you needed to. Learn some self defense tactics. Call 624-WALK. It might be the coolest new thing.
Another way to be safe is to let your friends and neighbors know where you are going and when. If you are leaving your house and have only a couple of blocks to go, call your friends that you are walking to and tell them what time you will be there. If you are walking home, tell them that you will call them in however many minutes when you get home.
The University should play a more active role in protecting its students by perhaps offering self-defense workshops at Coffman Union or by handing out pepper spray. Even giving students a flier with safety tips would be helpful.
It looks like these assaults are spontaneous and without motive. A group walking around with baseball bats probably is not looking for money, but disturbingly, just looking for a face to beat in.
The University, its students and the surrounding neighborhoods need to band together against these acts. There has to be a better way to protect ourselves than by walking in groups or being near the little blue emergency buttons.