by Nadia Shamout
As university students, we tend to be unfailingly overwhelmed with homework and studying which may cause us to spend our precious so-called “sleeping-hours” awake, cooped up in study lounges, pulling “all-nighters” at the library or at a friend’s place.
While I fully encourage and support our sisterly bonding times and animorphing oneself into a studying beast until us and our books are one, and we become Jedi masters of say Physics 6C, I strongly urge everyone to be safe when walking home at night.
There is a re-occurring sentiment that has been passing through the sisters’ community: that sisters can and should walk home alone.
The most common mindset related to this can be expressed in a proud/defensive manner like, “I can walk home alone. I don’t need protection. I always do this. Nothing has happened to me. If someone attacks me, they will be the one in pain. You don’t think I’m strong? Feel my guns!” which tends to be followed by exuberant flexing of one’s biceps.
Sisters, I do not doubt your strength. I fully believe you have the ability to S.I.N.G., But it is the unpredictable night that worries me. Most have heard countless stories of women being attacked for reasons that range from sexual assault to hate crimes.
According to the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault, “At least 1 in 4 college women will be the victims of a sexual assault during her academic career”.
Assault, whether it be sexual or otherwise does not happen on the victim’s terms. Though you may have walked home safely plenty of times, it will only take one harsh experience to bring the reality of this risky act into existence. Why not take the easy and necessary steps towards prevention instead?
We have a responsibility towards those who may look up to us and those who value our opinions. Do not make the mistake of walking home alone or refusing to wait for a walking partner or ride. You have an influence on those around you that you may not be fully aware of.
Walking in pairs is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, the fact that you utilize the buddy system for walking home at night should be seen as a respectable and commendable act. Offer to walk with your fellow sisters, and ask others to walk with you.
If there are no sisters around, ask a brother to walk you home. It is a blessing to be in a community whose members welcome helping/looking out for each other.
When you find yourself wanting to return home on foot with no one around to walk with you, you have the following options:
- Use the Evening Van Service, which runs from 6pm-11pm Monday-Thursday. (310) 825-9800.
- Use the Evening Walking Escorts. 15 minutes before you need to leave, call (310) 794-WALK.
- Call your roommates and have them walk together to walk you home. I know this sounds a bit extravagant, but I’m sure they love you and would be more than willing to sacrifice a brisk walk for the safety of their sister.
- Call me. I will come with another sister to where you are. If I am not available, it will not be difficult for me to find a couple sisters who will gladly come to your side.
UCLA also recommends the following crime preventative measures:
- Stay in well-lit, well-populated areas. Take the safest route, not the fastest route.
- Be aware of your environment. Don’t be afraid to look over your shoulders. It’s not rude to maintain a safe distance between yourself and others.
- Avoid blind corners. Take wide turns so that you have room to react to what’s ahead.
- Carry your keys in your hands. They may be used as a weapon if necessary.
- Do not fall asleep in isolated areas or if there are unknown persons in the room with you.
- When running alone, do not wear earphones, as this eliminates hearing as a defense mechanism. Try to run with a friend in the evenings, or have them watch you as you run. Keep your keys in your hand while running to use as a weapon.
- Advise someone of your whereabouts and how long you expect to be out. Inform that person if you end up staying longer than expected. (A text message will suffice; do not post your whereabouts on social networking sites).
- Learn to use and carry mace or pepper spray. Take a self-defense workshop.
For more information about these services, visit this site.
Take these safety precautions seriously, if not for yourself, then for those around you whom you love and whom you have an influence upon. Support safe-walking habits.
“The believers, both men and women, are awlia (helpers, supporters, allies) to each other.” (Al-Tawbah, 71)