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Arthur Christory / Gavel Media

Purdue, Burglaries, and Campus Safety: Are Students Safe at College?

Most seventeen-year-olds on college move-in day would be frightened to discover that their building only comprises thirty other first-year students. The rest are nineteen to twenty-four-year-old international, exchange, and transfer students. This is a discovery my roommate made just a couple of months ago. Even though there were many funny jokes about me being three months her senior. These jokes included me protecting her from the intimidating millennials living in the basement. This discovery made me question if I was as safe at Boston College as I thought I would be. My own experiences, plus recent events at BC and other college campuses, have me wondering if I should be more fearful and conscious. 

Just a few weeks ago, a Purdue student was senselessly murdered by their roommate, making headlines across the country and having college students and others questioning campus safety. The murder was a horrific event, especially as a new college student, but it struck even closer to home because I received the news from my hometown friend, a freshman at Purdue. She later told my friends how scared she felt on campus, not only because of the murder but because many of her peers were making obnoxious jokes about it in person and over social media. 

In the same week, Purdue was also in the news for being found guilty of retaliating against a student who came forward with assault allegations because they expelled her when she “made false statements about her assault,” and her accuser was only punished with an essay. Just last year, MeToo Purdue had been doing protests and sit-ins to urge the university to have a stronger stance against sexual assault. Additionally, after the trial, the group called for the Dean of Students and Vice President of Ethics to resign and continued to protest Purdue’s consistent claims that victims of sexual assault are making false statements.

This news was unfortunately not shocking to me. I’ve understood for years that if I had been assaulted on a college campus, any resources that could be of use to me would be hard to reach, and getting justice would take years if it even happened. Purdue made national headlines for each of their scandals and also for the two happening at the same time. This raised a more significant question about Purdue safety and, more importantly, the general campus safety themes of violence and sexual assault. Some college students could read this news and try to brush it off, thinking their school is safer. I at least had that mindset, trying to convince myself after these personal and impersonal experiences with campus danger that BC was a guaranteed safe place. That was until the attempted burglary at a BC off-campus house. 

On October thirteenth, there was an attempted burglary on an off-campus house on Kirkwood street, with a security camera image of the masked burglar spread across news outlets and BC social media like Herrd. There were multiple other sightings of the masked attempted- burglar near off-campus housing, but police didn’t confirm any to news outlets. Many students, both on and off campus, were terrified and took extra precautions when walking around campus at night, but more so for me, it was a wake-up call that campus safety issues happen everywhere. 

Thankfully, I haven’t been involved in any hazardous situations since becoming a college student, but I’ve been surprised at the dangers I have been experiencing. Since moving in just two months ago, I’ve experienced consistent sexual harassment walking through CoRo and Upper Campus late on the weekends. I have read of a recent stabbing in the Boston neighborhood I’ve been frequenting and heard a group of guys not-so-joking about roofying girls. I know other freshmen, especially girls, have been in similarly unsafe situations. These experiences don’t hold a candle to the Purdue murder or even the off-campus break-ins. BC probably eliminates some danger by not having fraternities like Purdue and other schools. Still, for only being here for two months, it’s certainly unsettling. 

After a surprising number of uncomfortable situations, I had been in already, Purdue opened further my eyes to how big of a problem campus safety is. I can no longer ignore that college campuses aren’t as safe as we want them to be. This doesn’t mean everyone who gets a random roommate will get murdered, that their school will ignore every rape case, or that your house will get home invaded. It’s likely that if you take precautions, you will be safe, but in just two months of being a college student, I’ve learned that in no way does $85,000 a year guarantee my safety on campus. Who knows, maybe I’m just a paranoid freshman who grew up in the midwestern suburbs. It’s time to start taking precautions, or better yet, look at ways to combat these issues systematically as a community. 

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