Recent crime, assaults make F&M students feel unsafe

By Lauren Wachspress || Contributing Writer

In light of recent events, F&M’s campus safety has become a serious concern. The two most recent assaults happened right on campus. In the past, assaults and robberies have more frequently occurred off campus around West James Street or Lemon Street. So these attacks rightfully incite uneasiness.

In my four years at F&M I have never felt unsafe walking through campus. My apathetic attitude on campus safety vanished after the, incident on Saturday, Oct. 31. My friends and I were dropped off around 1:00 a.m. at College Row that night, and as the only New College House resident I didn’t think twice about walking across the street to New unaccompanied.    

The next morning I awoke to the text alert and email describing the assault on a female student in front of New in the Williamson parking lot. I evaded this assault by, at most, only a half hour.

The assault is disturbing and puzzling. The victim was thrown to the ground. What the perpetrators were seeking remains a mystery.   

The description was suspiciously similar to that of the two suspects who previously assaulted and robbed a male student by Martin Library a few days earlier on
Oct. 26. 

Both descriptions of the attackers were extremely vague, however, and it would be nearly impossible for anyone to identify the specific suspects from these descriptions alone. That incident near Martin is so alarming because it happened at 9:15 p.m. When is it safe to walk alone, if in a central part of campus someone is robbed as early as 9:00 p.m.? For others it may be possible to avoid Martin or even Williamson, but as a senior living in New I cannot simply find alternate routes. Especially as a young female, I feel targeted. 

Walking back from a class around 5:45 p.m. this week, post-daylight savings, I felt uneasy at the thought of passing through Williamson alone. Worrying about a five-minute walk through campus is absurd. Fortunately, the College added huge temporary lights on either ends of the parking lot. This has, for the time being, eased my apprehension.

My mom’s first response to this whole situation was, “I got you Mace.” Hopefully Mace spray and taser guns are not the answer. It’s disheartening to think that students would need to resort to arming themselves to feel safe. Public Safety Officers, who have been armed since last year, have taken several measures to prevent further attacks and ensure safety.

The lights in Williamson really give a sense of security that the previously dimly-lit parking lot lacked. Crime has never been rampant on F&M’s campus, but awareness of the community around us and what’s going on downtown is crucial.

A stricter patrolling of campus by Public Safety, and students taking action by using the buddy system, for instance, hopefully can allow us to take back our campus.

Senior Lauren Wachspress is a contributing writer. Her email is lwachspr@fandm.

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