Unfortunately, we live in a predominantly androcentric world where women have extra things they must consider daily to feel more comfortable and to maintain their safety. It is frustrating and harmful to our self-esteem and our image of the world, but the reality is that these things matter. You matter. Your safety and your sense of safety matter, so here are some things you may want to consider before your first semester at college:
1. Headphones and earbuds
You may not know it but wearing earbuds may put you in more danger. When you are listening to music, you seem distracted and like an easier target. This may seem odd because many of us think that wearing our headphones is the politest way we can ask the rest of the world buzzing around us not to bother us, but it creates an opening for predators. In addition, you may not have thought of this because our world is so consumed by technology and it is normal to see all kinds of people walking around campus or elsewhere wearing their headphones and carrying on their way, and this is fine, as long as you continue to be alert and aware of your surroundings.
Please remain aware when you wear headphones to listen to music in public. Keeping your head up and watching with a calm, collected demeanor when you are alone is your first line of defense to ward off any attacker.
2. Pepper spray or a taser may not be a reliable defense.
Don’t get me wrong, they are much better than having nothing to protect yourself with but remember that you may lose valuable seconds reaching for your pepper spray or taser. It may be time to invest in some self-defense classes to give yourself the added sense of safety and the real possibility of saving yourself in a bad situation. Every second counts, so prepare ahead of time.
3. Be aware of the resources available to you.
The University of Utah is now implementing a SafeRide program that provides free, reliable transportation to students, faculty, and staff with the TapRide app. You can request a ride from any location on campus and operates Monday-Friday from 6 PM-12:30 AM. Please take advantage of this free resource designed to help us stay safe at night.
Other information about safety and security initiatives active on campus this 2019-20 academic year are available here.
Aside from safety resources, remember there are many resources available to women on campus. The Women’s Resource Center is a great place to start looking into them. The WRC gives thousands of dollars to women students, they provide counseling, emergency funds, and can help with childcare. They are a team of supportive, dedicated staff happily willing to help you with any of your needs.
There is also the Career and Professional Development center dedicated to helping students revise their resumes and cover letters to help get them out into the career field. They have Career Coaches available via appointment willing to help you map your path and decide your future.
4. Don’t spook yourself.
It can be scary when you start thinking about these things but remember that it is so much better to be prepared and educated than caught in a situation you do not know how to deal with. We all strive for safety and reassurance. We all deserve that. You deserve to feel safe and your feeling and concerns are valid. You matter.
It is difficult to live in a world where we need to watch our backs, but please remember the good things around you as well. Things are getting better. The world is learning and beginning to listen more than ever. This is our time. This is a time of movement and change for the better. This is the time to be proud and confident and know that you are important, and you deserve to be heard.
My challenge to you: Stand with your sisters.
In a world so divided and threatened, it is past time that we stand for one another and one another’s thoughts, rights, safety, and goals. It is time to speak for one another more and more every single day. Support and love one another because we all deserve it and because we know what it is like to be this world.