A safer community, but not exceptionally

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Claire Ballor, New Editor

 

There seems to be a prevalent mentality on campus that as students, our safety is guaranteed by the umbrella of the University of Dallas’ Catholic identity and the intimacy of our close-knit community. Not only is this mentality erroneous, but it is dangerous.

As an upperclassman living in the Tower Village apartments across from campus, I have come to realize that we are not the impermeable community I thought we were as a freshman. This realization is unnerving, but what is more so is witnessing the unawareness of other UD students.

It is not uncommon to see UD students walking around the Tower Village apartments on weekend nights, sometimes alone and, more often than not, inebriated. It is not uncommon to see women comfortably intoxicating themselves to the point of incoherency, letting the reputable name of the UD campus be their keeper and see to their safety. This is when safety is compromised and issues arise.

The University of Dallas is a fortunate community. We are blessed with a resilient thread of morality that is woven through our Core and deeply rooted in our Catholic foundations. We are also blessed that our daily concerns prove menial in the shadows of regular threatening occurrences in other academic communities.

These blessings mustn’t blind us to the reality that surrounds us. They do not and should not make us an exception in regards to our perceived safety. Our school’s Catholic identity does not protect us from the consequences of inebriation or the dangers that come from putting ourselves in unsafe situations.

Living in a relatively safe community doesn’t mean we can take safety for granted. -Photo by Rebecca Rosen
Living in a relatively safe community doesn’t mean we can take safety for granted.
-Photo by Rebecca Rosen

“I think everyone here feels safe for the most part,” said junior and Tower Village resident Katie Davern. “It is a small community and everyone feels like they know everyone and that is why people feel very safe.” Davern has noticed the same comfort that students possess as a result of our intimate and close-knit community. It is this common mentality that we are always safe here that gets people into trouble. This mentality leads people to feel comfortable walking alone at night, unaware of any potential dangers, whether they are inebriated or not.

Senior Alex Thornton doesn’t feel as though UD women are in danger when walking alone at night.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think it’s pretty safe here. I guess I wouldn’t recommend for girls to walk alone at night, but it’s not a big deal if they do.”

While Thornton may be right – for the most part, women are safe when walking around the campus and even the Tower Village apartments alone at night – problems occur when women are unaware of their surroundings and not in a state to see to their own safety. Just because it may be safe to walk around UD alone while alert and coherent doesn’t mean that it is safe to do while intoxicated.

Unfortunately, many women feel safe enough to become heavily intoxicated and subject themselves to the people and situations around them. They rely on the reputable safety of the university and act as though they would never find themselves in danger.

UD is generally a very safe place, but we are no exception to criminality. The sexual assault case that occurred last semester and the ones that have occurred in years past are reminders of our fallibility even as a conservative Catholic community. The cases that have been reported on the UD campus have always been cases involving acquainted parties and alcohol. This is evidence enough that it is ignorant, as it would be in any other community, to believe that we are any safer or any less subject to corruption and the consequences of intoxication.

Reminders such as these sexual assault cases are not often discussed, due to their controversial and almost taboo nature, but in order to change the mentality on campus in regards to safety, light needs to be shed on the larger situation.

The perpetrators can be condemned, the victims consoled, and the population made aware of the issues, but what is effective is an overall awareness of safety on campus – an awareness and understanding that we are responsible for our own safety and that it is not provided to us by the reputable name of this institution.

The university recently launched a sexual assault awareness campaign in effort to prevent sexual assault and violence on campus. This sort of approach to the issue will be effective only if the student body takes it upon itself to view this campaign as a call to action, rather than a standard university procedure that is more relevant to larger academic communities.

“I think the campaign is a great thing because it’s promoting awareness, which is really what needs to be done here. Even if this campaign only helps one person, it will be worth all of the efforts that the university is putting forth,” said junior Maggie Krewet.

Other students believe that the campaign is lacking in strength.

“I think the campaign is a good start, but I think that sexual assault issues indicate that there are problems on a deeper level and they need to be looked into more in depth than just a raising of awareness,” said Davern. “All of the cases that have happened really come down to drinking, and I think that could be further addressed as an issue.”

The question here is: How does a school regulate an issue such as this? What it comes down to is not necessarily action that needs to be taken by the school, but rather a mentality shift on behalf of students to understand that the good name of our school is not an excuse to neglect our own safety.

Freshman Javier Arias has found that it is not only a female mentality that needs to be changed in regards to safety and awareness.

“I think that guys here aren’t as aware of women’s safety because they don’t really think that there is a problem with safety in a community like this. What people need to realize is that you will always find bad people, even if you are in a good community. UD is not an exception. We need to always look out for each other, no matter how safe we feel.”

By no means should we live in fear, but instead we should practice the same awareness that we would in any other situation outside of our relatively sheltered community.

Our safety here is not a given. Our safety is concurrent with our own awareness of ourselves and those around us, and that must be recognized in order to have a safe environment. We are blessed, but we are not an exception.

 

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