The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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How safe are women on campus?

One out of every six college women is a victim of rape or sexual assault according to last year’s statistics. With these statistics, some parents fear sending their daughters off to school.

Freshman Whitney Wolf said parents and students have no reason to worry, “SMU is not reality, it is an extremely safe, bubble-like environment, which is different than the other universities my friends attend.”

Other students agree, but in reality, no one is completely safe from attacks.

There are 354 registered sexual offenders all living within nine miles of the SMU campus. Some women still believe these offenders would never set foot on campus.

But there is nothing stopping these predators from coming onto SMU’s campus. Every day, students lock their doors to protect themselves, but SMU cannot lock its campus from the rest of the world.

Readers Digest ranked SMU the 16th safest university in the country. While this may be a comforting fact to some, it does not make SMU invincible to predators.

“I never thought it would happened to me or happen on a campus in the middle of Highland Park,” SMU graduate Stephanie Hancock said.

Last year, on the day before spring break, she was walking out of a sorority house when three people wearing ski masks jumped out of the car and held a gun to her head.

Hancock says they were shouting, “Give me your purse. Give me your purse, now!”

Hancock screamed loudly and ran away from the attackers to a cab across the street, remembering a television show she saw on assaults.

SMU authorities take stories like this seriously and offer many programs for women’s safety on campus. Lt. Enrique Jemmott started a self-defense program at SMU six years ago called Sexual Harassment, Assault and Rape Prevention (SHARP). The program’s main focus is on being aware of surroundings – surrounding people and the surrounding area.

This class provides women with the confidence and knowledge to defend themselves. Lt. Jemmott fears many women block the reality that it can and will happen to them if they are not aware of their surroundings and do not take the necessary precautions to prevent an encounter.

“The class gets quite physical,” Jemmott said. “Every girl in there can bring me down, but this class teaches girls how to defend themselves. It is not based on strength. The bad guy will always be stronger. Women just need to be smarter.”

The SHARP class is free of charge and offered on Tuesday evenings at 5:30 p.m. at the Dedman Center for Lifetime Sports.

There are several other programs offered on campus besides the self-defense class. The Coordinator of Psychological Services for Women conducts educational programs dealing with assaults through wellness programs, the Orientation Week Program, the Extended Orientation Program (EOP) and seminars for specific groups.

Sophomore, Amanda Frederick was interested in these programs, but was unaware they existed.

“SMU needs to publicize the programs more for women to know they are available if needed,” she said.

SMU also offers a Security Escort Program and the Giddy-Up Program, which are available for students to call when they need a little extra security.

SMU has also set up blue emergency light stations around campus. The emergency lights contain a phone, which directly calls the SMU police communications center when there is an emergency. An officer is always dispatched to the location.

“I have seen the blue emergency stations around campus but never exactly knew what they were,” sophomore Alex Williamson said. “They could save a life, but yet I was never fully informed about them.”

Stephanie Hancock looked at the stations with a skeptical eye, after her assault last year.

“I am not sure what safety policies SMU has,” she said. “The only thing I have ever seen were those blue lights, but what are the chances you will get assaulted right next to one of those?”

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