Recent events raise safety concerns

Ursula Muñoz/ Contributing Writer

A couple of weeks ago, all of my professors decided to dump work on me at once.

Overwhelmed, I spent a total of 20 hours at the library that weekend—ten on Saturday and ten on Sunday.

When I FaceTimed my mother from the library at 11:45 p.m. to tell her what I had been up to, I was greeted the way only a mother living abroad could greet her daughter.

“Where are you?” “How far away is that from your dorm?” “Can you ask someone to accompany you there?” “Are there students outside?”

Though her fretting amused me at the moment, I felt my own womanly instincts sharpen as I speed-walked back to my dorm as quickly as possible.

As young women, many of us are taught to fear the worst when it comes to being alone at night time; college campuses often being illustrated as the primary warning areas for dangers such as rape and assault.

Not only are we conditioned to fear the worst of the place meant to shape our futures, but we are also taught to suspect each of our peers as a possible threat.

The situation reeks, but alas, in an age where the Brock Turners of the past have grown to make laws that protect the Brock Turners of the present, what can we do?

Brett Kavanaugh’s recent confirmation to the Supreme Court is proof that a woman’s word is worth much less than a man’s, even in the age of #MeToo.

Accused by Palo Alto University psychology professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford of a violent sexual assault act allegedly committed against her when he was in college, Kavanaugh whined and yelled his way through an extra day of public hearings (or, essentially, a job interview), only to be confirmed and later sworn in as the 114th Justice.

It’s not like the insistence on someone like Kavanaugh wasn’t to be expected from an administration led by a guy who coincidentally also won an election after being accused of sexual assault by multiple women.

Earlier this year, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed some changes to the federal policy on campus sexual misconduct. New rules will narrow the definition of sexual harassment and propose damaging changes, such as not holding institutions legally responsible for actions taken by students off-campus.

Although the current events have been tiresome, to say the least, it is not only at a national level that our security is being threatened, because, in the light of frightening events taking place at FIU, the situations aren’t just hypothetical anymore.

Last month, two students from MAST@FIU were allegedly assaulted by an unknown assailant at our Biscayne Bay Campus in broad daylight. According to the Sun Sentinel, the boy, James Critz, was knocked out and the girl, Isabela Perdomo was told she’d be alright if she removed her clothing.

Critz’s mother told NBC 6 News that she thinks the attack was sexually motivated. “They had actually said ‘hello’ to the person and then a little while later the person came and was… making, I guess, sexual advances toward Bella,” she explained. “They both said no and I guess the guy decided to take my son out of the picture.”

If the information is true, who knows what other gruesome acts would have taken place if she had complied with the man’s instructions.

Outrage amongst students was quickly sparked when a late email was sent with a very broad description of the assailant. People got even angrier when a rendered image that did not at all match the description was posted around BBC.

Communication issues and racist implications aside, the incident begs an important question: if it’s not safe to walk on campus with a partner by day, what would that say about being out alone at night when it is more difficult to witness an assault and more likely for one to become a target?

And God knows that there are plenty of reasons for students to be out at night, whether it be studying for exams, taking late classes or just hanging out.

It’s important to take safety precautions and be attentive to one’s surroundings in such scenarios.

Wearing light clothing to remain seen in the darkness, traveling in groups and carrying a whistle or some other form of alarm to call for help, are effective ways to stay safe.

In addition, the FIU Police Department is always available to walk students to their cars.

Downloading the FIU Guardian app and taking advantage of the services that the FIUPD provides can go a long way.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Mario Caruso on Unsplash.

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