I Don’t Feel Safe On Campus and This Is Why

The Charger Bulletin

This week my friends and I witnessed an altercation on campus late at night. What at first appeared to be a male student attacking a female student turned out to be a male student restraining his female friend who was in hysterics. Regardless, my friends and I reacted; we used the blue emergency tower to call for help, and one of us ran down the hill to the campus police station to report what we had seen.

I’m relieved my friend saw what was happening and responded appropriately. I’m relieved we had the sense to run to campus police, to call for help. I’m relieved that my friend is an EMT, and that she knows how to react in these situations. Most importantly, I’m relieved that we were there, because the situation could have ended very badly if we hadn’t been.

However, I’m in shock at the way the situation was handled by campus police. I believe that students should not be responsible to do the job that a police officer is trained to do. Perhaps when the campus police officers are trained, they are told not to touch students, and if that is the case, then I accept it. However, I don’t think it was appropriate for my friends to be the ones to hold down a girl who was kicking, scratching and biting. While I’m not sure what the protocol is in these situations, my opinion is that police officers shouldn’t leave four students unattended with a person who had exhibited violent tendencies not minutes before, yet that is what happened.

What is most shocking—and frightening—of all is the fact that the blue emergency tower located next to Bayer Hall doesn’t work properly, and campus police is fully aware of this. After my friends and I told the officer we had trouble using the emergency phone, the officer took us over to the tower to test it. Before testing it, he radioed to the dispatcher to let her know he was about to make a test call. She responded, saying that it hadn’t been working for a while, and that she needed to put in a work order for it. The police officer was visibly taken aback by this information, but the dispatcher spoke of it as though it was common knowledge.

That is horrifying. We are told time and time again that help is always there for us in times of emergency. To learn that one of our lifelines doesn’t work and that nothing is being done about it is very scary. What if we had been farther away from campus police? What if we had been by Westside Hall, or by the Forest apartments? We were lucky that we were where we were at the time, and we’re lucky that, through the shock and the adrenaline rush, we were able to respond appropriately.

From the moment we step on this campus as prospective students, we’re told about those blue emergency towers. Those blue towers are the shining beacons that put our minds at ease as we’re walking back to our dorms from the library late at night. Those blue towers make us feel safe, and I refuse to accept that they are nothing but an illusion of security that can quickly dissipate into thin air the moment they need to be used. However, since the time of this incident, the blue emergency phone has been fixed, and I’m grateful for that.

I’m writing this not because I want to complain, and not because I want to cause trouble. I’m writing this because I want to make sure that everyone on this campus, myself included, is in a safe environment, because after what I witnessed, I don’t feel safe anymore.

You can’t change the situations that arise on campus, but you can change the way you respond to them, and I am begging you to make these changes.