In light of the tragedy that occurred at Michigan State University that left three students dead and five students critically injured, two issues have been made exceedingly evident: (1) gun violence is occurring at an increased rate at schools, colleges, and other areas occupied by civilians and (2) taking necessary safety precautions on campus needs to be highlighted now more than ever. American society has now devolved to the point where students do not feel safe on their campuses and in which parents fear for their children as they go off to college. What is supposed to be an exciting new chapter in life is now being corrupted by the horrors of violence.
Gun violence, however, is not the only type of violence that frequents college campuses. As a first-year student at Howard University (a university located in the very middle of Washington DC), I am unfortunately not new to situations of violence and crime on or near campus. The administration reminds us of the crime occurring around campus with regular crime alerts. Just last month, a student was robbed near campus. The crime was even worse during the fall semester at Howard, with more than a dozen reports of violence (including assault, armed robbery, and shootings) being reported by Howard University’s Department of Public Safety. Last semester, one incident, in particular, was notoriously reported by the university newspaper, The Hilltop. The headline read, “Howard Towers East Rooms Robbed By Children.” Children native to DC raided rooms in Towers East, a dorm hall near campus. Although this headline may seem comical at first glance, it exemplifies the lack of security that students have in their place of residence.
Here are some safety tips to follow when traveling on or around campus:
*At night, never travel alone. In a metropolitan environment such as DC, there are a lot of suspicious and sometimes dangerous people roaming the streets or even the college. I learned this lesson the hard way when I walked to a CVS not even a mile away from campus and a hysterical woman tried to steal my bag and fight me in the middle of the store (and the woman was half my size, so no one is safe). Safety is in numbers!
*Stay aware of your surroundings. Anything can happen at any moment. This is not to say that you have to be on edge every time you step out of your dorm, but it’s best to move about with caution. If you feel uneasy or anxious in a certain area, if you feel uncomfortable with the people you are with, even if ANYTHING feels a little off trust your gut.
*Share your location with friends. In case your phone dies or you are put into a dangerous situation, always make sure that your friends know where you are so that they can find ways to help.
My heart goes out to those affected by the Michigan State University shootings. Every student deserves to feel safe and secure on and around their college campuses. No matter what.
By Amaar Zarrieff, Freshman, Howard University