In the past few weeks, students at the University of Florida have been on high alert after a variety of attempted sexual assaults.
Four female students were assaulted within a two-week time span on the university’s campus while walking alone at night.
Naturally, as a student who has lived on campus, I have thought about these kinds of tragedies before.
I think back to my freshman year when I would have to park in a garage that was a decent walk away from my dorm building at night. I remember how alert I would be fast-walking on the sidewalk, not letting my guard down until the minute I unlocked the door of my bedroom.
Although our university has only had minimal crime, students should still make sure to be aware of their surroundings when walking around anywhere in general late at night.
Ever since I was little, my mother has reiterated the phrase “nothing good happens after midnight.” In most cases I’d have to agree. Traveling alone at late hours of the night should just be avoided if possible. Attackers are less likely to approach people in groups because there is more of a chance they will get caught.
It is essential to have your phone out and ready to use if it is an absolute necessity to walk somewhere by yourself late at night. Texting a friend and letting him or her know that you are walking alone could also be a life-saving action if disaster strikes so they know to contact the police if they never get a text saying you are safe.
Last year I attended our Panhellenic Council’s event “Punch N Brunch.” An instructor from the Rape Aggression Defense program came in and taught us basic self-defense skills that I believe every student could benefit from. R.A.D. classes are available throughout the country and are extremely useful to both women and men of all ages.
The simplest concept learned was to constantly, loudly repeat the word “no” if assaulted. This could potentially deter the attacker. After, we learned blocking and kicking techniques that are both simple and effective and could potentially save our lives if we’re ever put in an awful scenario similar to the ones occurring at the UF and other campuses.
It’s important to remember that women aren’t the only victims of sexual assault and that men too can also be the targets of these crimes.
People of any gender, race, or age are susceptible to crime in the same respect that any kind of person, male or female, could be the attacker.
Most people are aware that these situations occur but are prone to thinking “it will never happen to me.”
While it is extremely unfortunate that we live in a world where these tragedies are happening, crime is inevitable and we must do our best to protect ourselves from it. Taking extra precautions and being aware of our surroundings are crucial things we must do in order to ensure our own safety at our university.
It is time to now educate ourselves and our classmates to make the first step toward ending rape culture.