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Take your safety seriously

| Friday, November 14, 2014

The phrase “Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s bubble” is certainly a cliché by now, but only because it is a pretty accurate reflection of most students’ perceptions. We think of our campus world as a bubble immune to reality, but we’re starting to wake up to the reality that crime happens everywhere.

The next reality we need to acknowledge is that after we graduate from college, no one is going to send us email alerts about crime in our neighborhoods.

And that means that sooner or later, we need to inform ourselves about ways we can keep ourselves – and our friends – safe. Knowing about past crimes doesn’t prevent future ones, but it might make you more alert and cautious.

Awareness of crime should not prompt us to lead our lives in perpetual fear; instead, we must be proactive and take advantage of the available resources aimed to further our safety.

Notre Dame Security Police (NDSP) defines itself as “a service organization whose product is safety,” and the officers provide us with resources that we should not take for granted. After college, few of us will have access to late-night safe rides or officers willing to stop by off-campus residences for safety demonstrations. We implore NDSP to continue promoting active awareness of their services, and for students to take a conscious role in protecting themselves.

When a crime alert email shows up in your inbox, don’t simply scroll past or delete it automatically. Take time to read it instead. We must avoid responding to crime alerts with fear, but instead, must combat ignorance with awareness. Take note of the circumstances listed in each report — including location, time of day and significant details — and weigh these factors before making decisions that could put you in potentially similar situations.

We do have the right to feel safe on our campus, but we also cannot be passive about our wellbeing in the rest of our time here. Taking our own safety seriously is an important first step in contributing to a safer environment for others. Informing ourselves about potential threats is the most effective means of organizing preventative action.

Take advantage of other crime-awareness services beyond emails. Many students don’t know that NDSP publishes a daily crime log on its website, with lists of reported incidents. Just because an email doesn’t arrive in your inbox doesn’t mean you can’t know an incident happened. Set up an automatic alert on CrimeReports.com’s interactive safety beat map, where you can check if any incidents have happened on your usual walking or driving routes on or near campus.

We cannot allow ourselves to live in denial when we have the tools to become more aware of our environment and take action to eliminate as much risk as possible. Moving forward, we must be aware. Aware of our risks. Aware of our environment. Aware of our own vulnerability. The more you know what has happened in our bubble, the better prepared you are to contribute to constructive solutions and the more seriously your suggestions will be taken.

Informing ourselves isn’t the end of the problem, but it’s the best start.

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