By The Gatepost Editorial Board
Gabby Petito was travelling across the country with her fiancé Brian Laundrie before she disappeared. The FBI concluded this week that her death was a homicide and Laundrie is a person of interest.
Regardless of whether Laundrie was responsible for Petito’s death, this tragedy is another reminder of the unfortunate reality of domestic violence in the U.S.
The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) reported over 50% of sexual assaults on college campuses occur between August and November.
RAINN also reported 13% of all college students are victims of rape or sexual assualt through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. This includes 26.4% of women – but 80% of these cases go
Male college-aged students are 78% more likely than non-students to be victims of rape or sexual assault, and LGBTQIA+ students are 23.1% more likely than non-students, according to RAINN.
RAINN also reported 5.8% of college students have experienced stalking.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reported that drinking by college students contributes to over 1,500 deaths, 696,000 assaults, and 97,000 sexual assaults or date rapes each year.
Between 2017 and 2019, FSU and its sister institutions reported 167 Violence Against Women Act criminal offenses, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security database.
These acts included incidences of stalking, domestic violence, and dating violence. Five were reported on Framingham State’s campus.
FSU reports on-campus rape cases under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. Between 2017 and 2019, nine criminal cases of rape and seven cases of fondling were reported.
Considering these statistics, there is no better time than now to educate ourselves about campus safety.
A lot of safety advice we were told while growing up is no longer helpful. For example, holding your keys between your fingers as a method of self-defense has been a go-to habit for many of us and our peers. However, this technique is only useful in close proximity to an attacker.
If the techniques we have been given all our lives are not truly helpful – and with self-defense weapons such as pepper spray not permitted on campus – how do we keep ourselves safe?
At Framingham State, there are CODE BLUE Emergency Phones that students can call to immediately reach University Police. These are located throughout campus, often attached to a building.
The University Police Department also provides escorts upon request. If students are walking alone at night between the hours of 2 a.m. and dawn, they can call University Police and be safely escorted by an officer.
University Police also regularly coordinate self-defense classes for FSU community members to attend, including two this month.
The Department also keeps a log of all police responses in a binder accessible to the public, and a safety bulletin on its website listing details of recent major cases.
Some of these incidents are reported by The Gatepost in our “Police Logs” section on page 2. We also have a history of covering the University’s and community’s responses to major criminal cases.
Everyone should consider carrying a whistle – they are cheap, portable, and blowing one can draw attention from far away.
Download a safety app on your phone, such as Noonlight. Apps such as these provide a variety of functions such as contacting police, sharing your location with trusted contacts, and simulating a phone call to deter potential attackers.
And most of all, looking out for each other as one community is the biggest safety tip we can provide.
We’ve grown up being told that people avoid involving themselves when they encounter a dangerous situation – but that shouldn’t be the case. We are each other’s biggest safety net.
Before you begin travelling – especially at night – text someone and let them know where you are going. Text them when you reach your destination.
Never let someone walk alone at night – use the buddy system. Offer to be someone’s buddy.
If you attend a party, don’t go alone. Always leave with everyone you came with – never leave anyone behind. If you notice someone who can’t find their friends, offer to help them.
Sexual assault includes any non-consensual contact. Pay attention to your surroundings at parties and leave if you feel uncomfortable.
Don’t leave your drink unattended, and keep it covered with your hand or thumb. If you think your drink has been contaminated, get a new one.
Advocate for the safety of the greater community. It’s in your best interest to make sure that safety is a top priority at FSU.
Violent offenses have become an unfortunate reality for too many college students – even on our campus.
Even if you feel safe on campus, your peers might not. Don’t be a bystander! Keeping our campus safe is everyone’s responsibility.
Wouldn’t you want someone to watch your back?