Campus Safety is an issue on every college campus. We must discuss it more!
On Monday, June 19th, I held a discussion at Georgia State University on campus safety. The discussion group included students from all ages. There were recent high school graduates all the way up to graduates of a masters program.
The discussion started off with a video introduction of Sayfty to familiarize everyone with the organization. Afterward, we started the discussion. We had six discussion questions:
- Do you feel safe or unsafe on your campus? What are the reasons?
- What are some effective ways of increasing campus safety? Share specific examples.
- Have you ever felt threatened or uncomfortable on campus? How have you handled that experience?
- What have you noticed campus police/administration doing to improve campus safety? What are issues, if any, that you have with current policies of Georgia State?
- One of the ways Sayfty advocates for girls and women’s safety is through self-defense. Have you ever taken a self-defense class. Why or why not?
- How can an organization, like Sayfty, engage with students and address issues of campus sexual assault, harassment, or bullying? What would you like us to do next?
We discussed the fact that Georgia State has a pretty open campus, and it’s easy for anyone, affiliated with the university or not, to come onto campus. Many of the participants discussed instances where they’d felt uncomfortable or unsafe walking alone or late at night because of this.
While we have all been told to follow the buddy system, the group agreed that only works to an extent.
There had been times where many of the participants have passed up going to the library to study late at night because they felt too unsafe to make the walk. We discussed that the escort system that GSU has in place is effective because a student can call at any time and receive a ride, but many don’t know about it.
Our library had been subject to a string of armed robberies and the university increased campus police presence in the library. We all decided that this would be effective throughout campus, as well as increasing security on classroom buildings due to the fact that almost anyone can walk in.
Catcalling was also a common experience that made the predominantly female group feel uncomfortable. We’ve all experienced unwanted approaches on the street, from students and non-students. To handle this, we all shared that if at all possible, we walk with a buddy. The male participants shared that they like to walk with their female friends to increase safety, especially late at night or very early in the morning when there aren’t as many people out.
Unfortunately, none of the people at the event had ever taken a self-defense class. Busy school schedules left us without time to take a class, despite being interested in it. The university advertised a class freshman year, but we never heard anything of it after. GSU has Freshman Learning Communities, FLCs, where the participants are required to take a freshman seminar class, GSU 1010. We all agreed that class should focus on campus safety.
Universities, like Georgia State, should partner with organizations, like Sayfty, to address campus safety.
Everyone in the group was very eager to give ideas when it came to how organizations can start discussion on campus safety. Some of the suggestions are:
- Holding monthly discussions, like this one, to create an environment where students feel comfortable to discuss issues and ways to fix them
- Engaging the student population on a wider scale and having the university sponsor the event
- Partnering with professors to offer extra credit for attending events like this
- Advertising services for support in a more widespread manner through posters or fliers on campus
The group discussion concluded with a handout. The words on the handout were, “I Feel Unsafe When” like the campaign Sayfty previously did during the #16DaysofActivism, and everyone wrote what made them feel unsafe, on campus or off. Some examples are:
- “I get catcalled or stared at for too long”
- “I’m alone and being approached by a guy or a group of guys”
- “My sister is walking alone at night”
- “I know that people around me feel unsafe”
- “When I go to the gas station when it’s dark outside”
- “I am alone in an area I am unaware of”
- “I walk alone at night”
- “Someone living on the street approaches me or persists in asking me something”
- “The women I am with feel unsafe”
Campus safety is an issue for everyone, regardless of gender. Universities must take more action is protecting and ensuring the safety of their students. If you’re a student and campus safety is a concern for you and would like to hold a discussion on your campus, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Kathryn Pitts is a Political Science major at Georgia State University, pursuing a career in the non-profit sector. She is aiming to work with refugees, specifically women and children, and women’s rights on a global scale. She is passionate about volunteer work and strives to help others every day. Kathryn also enjoys playing with her dog and hiking on weekends off.
Image Credit: GSU