Letter: Campus safety should be a priority

Jan. 11, 2011, 12:07 a.m.

Dear Editor,

In light of a recent assault and a “hot prowl,” I would like to express my sincere concern about current campus safety. As a sophomore female, I have not (until recently) felt threatened to leave my dorm room at night or to walk alone. Keeping my room unlocked at night never struck me as unsafe and I never dreamt that anyone would crawl into my window. I find it very unsettling that two troubling incidents have occurred within the span of a week without much outcry from the campus. I admit that I am very satisfied with Stanford’s Emergency Alert System, which immediately informs us of assaults. However, a new system of crime prevention should be enacted to ensure that these crimes are severely hindered and punishable.

I am not the type to give up liberties to ensure safety, but I would feel more comfortable if there were more security measures and campus-wide education about how to report suspicious activity. Last year, I had my first confrontation with a potential assault crime. While studying in Meyer Library, I heard a scream from the girl’s bathroom. Still to my chagrin today, no one but one other guy and I ran to the aid of the girl. When we arrived, a larger man emerged next to a crying girl as she tried to explain that he was looking into her stall and had pushed his way past her. To my knowledge, no other assault occurred.

The man in the bathroom proceeded to knock down the guy next to me and I immediately called 911, following the man as he fled. I do not think he was ever caught, which is unsettling, considering the other witnesses and I had offered a fairly accurate description of him. I was surprised at the lack of reaction from the students in the library, imagining what would have happened if no one at all had checked out the source of the screams. I am not saying the onus lies upon men, but I was a bit more disappointed that so many guys in the library had cowered from even coming to the hallway where the bathroom is.

Perhaps I am only tangentially touching upon a much more complex issue of crime in general. I am not the police and I have little expertise in how to prevent assaults (if at all), but I do feel like more needs to be done, whether it is creating better-lit areas (especially between buildings), disseminating informative pamphlets, advertising 5-SURE transportation or even coming to the aid of a screaming girl. (Nothing is more terrifying than screaming and no one reacting.) I hope Stanford will explore safer measures to ensure that assault prevention is a top priority on campus. I will not let a few incidents change my actions drastically, but they have made me more aware that there is a problem that needs to be re-addressed.

Sharia Mayfield ’13

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