Campus safety begins with everyone

An uneasy summer in Champaign grew grimmer this weekend when police released information about yet another violent crime against a University student. Since the end of the spring semester, local police have released information about four crimes involving sexual assault and one armed robbery near campus.

The latest crime sounds all too familiar. A female walking alone in Campustown was attacked by single male at 2:30 in the morning. Had it not been for a good samaritan in the area, the attacker may have done much worse.

We know the job of local police is to catch criminals. But despite mass e-mails, news stories, sketch artists and alerts, we know that police cannot solve or prevent every crime in the area. We have to rely on ourselves to lower our risk of becoming victims.

It’s been said a million times before, but it’s been proven that walking around the area by yourself after dark makes you a prime target for predators. This is especially true around bar closing time when hundreds of students make their way home.

One of the best tips to stay safe is also one of the simplest. Make sure that someone knows where you’re going to be and what time to expect you to arrive there. This person can make sure that in the event something happens to you, authorities can respond quickly.

If you are attacked or suspect that you are being followed, your best option is to get away from the area and attract attention to yourself. Self-defense classes and noise-making devices like whistles can be used in addition to basic precautions like holding your keys between your fingers.

With a few more weeks to go before the bulk of the student population returns to campus, those that are here now still remain more vulnerable to attacks. We have to work together to keep everyone safe whether it’s reporting suspicious activity, going home in groups or keeping an eye out for those that look in danger.