As students return to campus after a long break, the usual struggles of a college student are back in full swing. Packed schedules, busy days and late nights at the library are quickly becoming the norm again. One thing that may not be at the forefront of students’ minds is their safety.
“This world makes you vulnerable in a lot of ways,” Jessica Haymaker, coordinator of the Center for Advocacy, Response and Education, said. “I think everyone has this idea that nothing is ever going to happen to them, and I hope it doesn’t – but one in five women experience sexual assault, and one in six men will experience some sort of sexual violence. It always happens to ‘someone else,’ but you are ‘someone else’ to everyone else. You always think it won’t happen until it does.”
The 2014 Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Report shows that robbery, burglary and arrests for drug abuse and weapon possession went down in Manhattan in 2013. Reports of forcible sex offenses and aggravated assault, however, went up.
According to Haymaker, students won’t have to constantly think about protecting themselves if they actively support and practice prevention efforts.
“I’d like to see our minds shift to preventing crimes and holding perpetrators accountable,” Haymaker said.
“Often times, friends want to help find a solution to the troubling emotions that people feel, and this is natural; however, just lending an open ear is what is most helpful. Additionally, helping your friend to access resources available on campus and in the community can be helpful.” – Dayna Northart
K-State works very hard to be a safe environment for its students, and provides multiple resources to aid in the prevention of potential crimes. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable and safe on campus, though feeling comfortable should not lead to carelessness.
“Don’t get complacent with your usual route of travel, and pay attention to your surroundings,” said Maj. Don Stubbings, assistant director of support services for K-State Police Department. “Use the buddy system or Wildcat Walk. Also, walk in well-lit areas and avoid the short cuts that are often poorly lit.”
Walking at night in poorly lit areas alone or with headphones in leaves students open to dangers and should not be taken lightly. Wildcat Walk is a free service available 24-hours a day all year around where a member of the campus police will walk a student to their destination so they don’t have to walk alone. The department also does 24-hour patrols on and around campus.
Safe Ride provides rides to students Thursday through Saturday nights. The new app “Live Safe” is another resource that allows users to virtually walk with a friend or direct message campus police.
“Programs are there for a reason and I think the more people use them the more we understand and continue to invest in them,” Haymaker said. “They’re a great thing to utilize.”
Despite all of these safety measures, crime still can happen anywhere and to anyone. Haymaker said it is important to be an active bystander. Students should be aware when something is not right, or if a crime is taking place. In some cases, it’s safe to intervene; in others, actively trying to remember elements of the crime make bystanders a helpful witness later.
A victim of any crime can feel a wide variety of emotions, and have issues with their day-to-day life after the fact. One of the most important things to do as a friend of a victim is to remind them it is not their fault, according to Dayna Northart, psychology intern and member of the English Counseling Services.
“If you have a friend who experienced an assault, the best thing you can do for them is listen,” Northart said. “Often times, friends want to help find a solution to the troubling emotions that people feel, and this is natural; however, just lending an open ear is what is most helpful. Additionally, helping your friend to access resources available on campus and in the community can be helpful.”
To help make dealing with situations like these less frequent, students can stay aware and be safe. Utilizing the resources the campus gives you is an easy way to do that.