By Lindsay Huffman
During the past week, three separate events brought outside attention to Eastern. First, a female employee was struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Kit Carson Drive and Daniel Boone Drive last Thursday. Then, on Sunday and Tuesday night, a male exposed his genitals to two female students near Walters Hall. Various media outlets covered these stories, and a public safety bulletin was sent to the entire campus through e-mail the morning after the second incident. While these events were completely unrelated, their occurrence begs the question: how safe is Eastern’s campus?
Traffic safety and personal safety are two very different facets of security, obviously. But shouldn’t students, faculty, staff and visitors feel safe on Eastern’s campus in every way? Reports about injured pedestrians and unidentified perverts will not set anyone’s mind at ease about how secure the campus is.
Thankfully, most of the time, safety issues are not as extreme as the past week’s events. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t still scared of trekking across campus in the dark, or waiting alone for a ride.
While the university is usually well known for its safety measures and the efforts of Eastern Police, safety measures and police officers can’t protect the entire campus by themselves.
And feeling secure isn’t just about theoretical entities or rules-it’s mental. It’s a condition of the mind where a person can feel confident that he/she can walk across campus with a small chance of becoming a victim of some random event.
According to statistics reported to the FBI about crime at Eastern, there were seven violent crimes, three cases of forcible rape, three robberies, one incident of aggravated assault, 252 property crimes, 64 burglaries, 186 cases of larceny-theft and two motor vehicle thefts in 2009 alone.
Who takes the blame for these events? It is Eastern’s responsibility to keep its students and workers safe, but it is not the responsibility of the university to be everyone’s mother and make sure people behave correctly.
Of course, Eastern has certain obligations to fulfill. Broken streetlights, the lack of lights in certain areas of campus (i.e., The Ravine), the lack of security cameras in certain areas (areas where, for instance, some of the 252 property crimes occurred)-these concerns can and should be addressed by the administration and campus police.
On the other hand, the university isn’t the sole factor in these situations.
One person who commented on the pedestrian story on The Eastern Progress website made a very good, albeit subtle, point about this topic. The commenter wrote, “I have to cross through that crosswalk, usually multiple times a day, and it’s scary how many drivers are not mindful of the pedestrians or other drivers.”
As this person points out, one of the main problems with safety at Eastern lies in personal responsibility.
If you’re driving, watch where you’re going. If you see a stop sign, stop and make sure there aren’t pedestrians crossing. If you want to try and impress someone, flashing your genitals is probably not the best way to do so. And if you see someone doing these things, then it’s your responsibility to report them.
Safety doesn’t just magically appear; people have to work together and take certain steps to get there. You can’t always rely on other people to take care of you, so it’s important to step up and use some common sense.
If Eastern wants to avoid more crime and embarrassing events, then security measures will have to be tightened and people will have to start taking some personal responsibility. If the people on campus don’t work together to improve its safety, consequences more serious than unwanted attention are bound to occur in the future.