Mollie Tibbetts. Blaze Bernstein. Lisa Levy. All college students. All murdered. Each probably thinking the same things that we all think every day. “That can’t happen to me;” “Things like that just don’t happen here;” or we just simply don’t think about it. But we should. The reality is that it could happen to anyone of us at any time. According to rainn.org, 11.2 percent of all students—including undergraduates and graduate students—will experience “rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation.”
Sexual assault is the most underreported crime on college campuses. Sixty-three percent of sexual assaults go unreported, according to studies done by the Bureau of Justice. However, it’s not the only crime that is prevalent. Out of 27,500 crimes reported at 2-year and 4-year college campuses, 2,300 were aggravated assaults, according a study done by the National Center for Education statistics in 2015.
It may seem like a leap to go from rape or assault to murder. But it isn’t. Many people who are convicted of murder come from a criminal background. Often, their mentality becomes that they were caught by the police and possibly identified by their victims. This often brings them to the conclusion that next time there should be no witnesses. Obviously, this is not always the case. But most people who commit murder have come from a violent criminal background.
At the Arka Tech, we are not only dedicated to bringing you news, we also want each and every one of you to remain safe. What we do not want to do is place any blame on victims of violent crimes. That is not our intention and we will try our best not to do so. If we do, we apologize in advance. We also do not want to give you the idea that we are more concerned with female students than we are males. In fact, 77.8 percent of “intentional homicide victims” are male, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. We care about each and every one of Tech’s students. What we do want to do is give you some tips on how to stay safe. You may have heard some of these tips a thousand times, but it’s always in your best interest to consider these tips in order to keep yourself safe.
Don’t walk alone. This seems like an obvious thing to many people. Yet, there are always people walking alone. Occasionally, it’s difficult to avoid. Our advice is to walk out with people you have your night class with or walk to class with a friend, especially at night. Take a friend or a parent shopping with you so you don’t have to walk alone in parking lots. If you do find yourself walking alone, stay off your phone. It seems like a good idea to be talking on the phone while you’re walking alone but being on your phone can distract you. It can keep you from observing that creepy person who followed you out of the store and to your car. Instead, have your phone in your hand and ready to use in case you need it.
Don’t open your door for random people. This mainly applies to people who live off campus in apartments. However, you can never be too careful. Always look through the peephole to see who someone is before you let them in, especially if you’re not expecting somebody. If you’re too short to reach the peephole, invest in a small, cheap stepstool so that you can check before letting people in. Park next to lights at night or, if on campus, next to a light and an emergency button. The light will enable you to see around you and, in your car, before you get in. The emergency buttons on campus immediately dial 911 for you in case you are attacked or see something that unsettles you enough to dial 911.
Or better yet, call Public Safety to come pick you up. Public Safety does provide a nighttime escort service for students. They will ferry you from your class to your dorm or car. Just give them a call at (479) 968-0222.
Learn how to defend and protect yourself. Public Safety also hosts workshops on how to stay safe. Public Safety has a woman’s self-defense program, which is a two-part class that teaches women “safety skills and basic self-defense” according to the Public Safety website. There is also the don’t be a victim workshop, which also teaches safety skills, what to do in an emergency situation and when and how to call the police. Public Safety also hosts workshops about theft prevention and emergency preparedness, which includes active shooter training and “student or faculty response to an irate person, suicidal subject, or violent encounters,” according to the Public Safety website.
This is just a small sampling of the things you can do to stay safe. There are hundreds of other options. A quick Google search brings up pages upon pages of results on how to stay safe. Be proactive in keeping yourself safe. Do some research and figure out what safety methods will work best for you.