I Deserve to Feel Safe

It started with an open door.

My day had been filled with stress, so around midnight, I decided to take a walk alone to Walgreens to pick up some Oreos for my roommate and just get some fresh air. With my hands full of bags and my cell phone, I yelled to the man in front of me to hold the door. Quickly, I passed by and said,  “Thank you!” as my parents had always told me to, but what followed genuinely scared me. He walked after me, calling with a loud “Where are you from, Ma?” and I increased my pace. He continued to follow me all the way back to my dorm, despite the precautions I had taken – from crossing the street to making note of the emergency boxes our campus provided. Luckily, I made it back to the dorm to my security officer at the front desk, and when I turned around the man was no longer there. However, this whole experience has made me so thankful for the College of Charleston, their resources, and the community we have here.

Walgreens at dark. (Courtney Luna)

What were you wearing?

This is the most common question I have gotten since telling this story to others. It does not matter what I was doing. It does not matter what time I went out. It does not matter what I was wearing. The fact is that I didn’t ask this man to follow me or verbally harass me. I wasn’t inviting this attention, all I wanted were the Oreos. This “what were you doing” attitude towards women who end up getting harassed or attacked is offensive and is clearly victim-shaming. For the record, I was wearing an oversized tee and workout pants, I did not say anything inviting to him, and I did everything I should have done – other than call the police.

Thank you, College of Charleston.

College of Charleston is in a downtown area so they aren’t going to be able to protect us from everything, nor should they, as we all have to learn to operate in a world where danger exists. However, the college offers so many resources to students that I never would have thought I would ever need. From Public Safety Officer Escorts, who promise to walk you home if it’s ever too late, to Counseling Services following an actual attack, the College puts student safety first. During the month of September, College of Charleston is celebrating National Campus Safety Month and I would like to make a shout out to the resources our school provides us with, as they are honestly the sole reason I still feel safe to walk to Walgreens at midnight.

Go to http://publicsafety.cofc.edu/campus-safety-month/index.php to learn more about National Campus Safety Month at the College.

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