I don’t always feel safe at FMU

We’ve all been there; you’ve been at the library for hours, and time just managed to slip away from you. You glance down at your phone and realize it’s almost midnight. Your eyes are tired, and your brain is exhausted from hours of retaining material. You tell your study group bye and you walk out of Rogers Library. Campus is quiet, dark and ominous. You try and regain your senses, but it is late and you have been studying for hours. You know that walking alone anywhere at night isn’t a good idea, especially when you’re exhausted and your reflexes are slower. You brush off the uncomfortable feeling you have in the pit of your stomach and you just deal with it. Your dorm is only a five-minute walk away, right? Or perhaps your car is only a football field-stride across the lawn in front of the quad. You tell yourself these things, and you do what you have to. You walk.

You try to distract yourself by glancing down at your phone, but then you quickly remind yourself of what you were told at orientation- be aware of your surroundings. A gust of wind predicting falls arrival rushes through campus. The bushes and trees rustle, but you truly believe you hear approaching footsteps behind you. You glance over your shoulder and you see no one. You cling your purse a little tighter as you fumble for your key fob. You glance over your shoulder again, and this time you see someone behind you. You can’t tell who it is- but it’s late and you’re ready to be somewhere familiar. You begin to walk faster through the heavy wooded area. Finally, you see your dorm and a peaceful feeling rushes over you. Now in better light, you realize it’s a girl you recognize from biology lab. Noticeably in the same boat as you, you realize biology lab isn’t the only thing you have in common. You exchange a look, and you know she’s glad the walk alone is over too.

FMU is generally a safe institution. We have wonderful police and security personnel that monitor campus 24/7. They patrol and protect students and faculty, and they do it with professional integrity as well as love. While this may be true, students still find themselves in situations that are scary sometimes. Being a female student specifically, I struggle with the concept that I am not allowed pepper spray on campus. On many occasions at night, I feel like at any moment I could be taken advantage of. Women walking to and from their cars or apartments at night are particularly vulnerable. In these moments, I rack my brain thinking of ways that I could make myself less of a sitting duck. When I’m not on campus, I always keep pepper spray on my keys. If I’m at a bar, on a run or even going to the grocery store late at night, my walk back to my car is significantly less daunting when I know my chances of fighting off someone is fair. In the FMU Handbook, pepper spray is listed with nun chucks and propelled missiles. While I can get on board with the banning of keeping missiles in your purse, I can’t understand why I’m not allowed my tiny pink pepper spray. We might not be able to control if we’re victimized, but we should be able to fight off that victimization.