Late last Thursday night, a female student was confronted by three men and robbed at gun point while she was walking in an area of campus described by Campus Safety Director John Schlaf as well-lit. She was struck several times and had her pockets searched before her attackers fled the scene. Luckily, she was able to escape with another student to a safe, well-populated area and later treated for her injuries.
Earlier that evening, another student was verbally assaulted by a similar group of men as she crossed the street from her campus-owned apartment to the main block. She called Campus Safety and remained shaken, but not injured, by the incident.
Granted, these female students were by themselves, but they were on campus and under lights. These incidences should not have happened. Knox students should be able to feel safe, within their campus, not constantly having to look out for a potential attacker.
Students should be able to roam campus without worrying about finding a buddy to work out or go to the caf or even to class with.
After what happened this past week, any student walking alone in the dark shouldn’t be blamed if they are a little jumpy.
Even if the robbed student had been a male or traveling with a friend, even if the students had been boys, they might still have been approached by these men with a gun. Guns don’t discriminate between genders nor are they afraid of any number of unarmed people. That is why this attack is so frightening.
Technically, our campus is very safe. Campus Safety Director John Schlaf and his team can constantly be seen patrolling the area and they are always very quick to respond. They have a service that will walk students home if needed any time of the day. They work with the Galesburg Police Department in order to keep the surrounding areas safe. These are all good things and we students appreciate them very much.
But these attacks orchestrated by people coming onto campus are a persistent problem that need to be further addressed. Between the physical attacks on male students on and very near campus, the attacker who followed a female student back to campus last term and these verbal attacks as well as the armed robbery last week, students cannot be too careful when they are walking between buildings.
Even as these incidences occur, we students must remember that most people from Galesburg don’t want to rob us or hurt us in any way. Many students volunteer in the community and have had positive experiences. It is just a rotten few who threaten us. But that few is too many.
We students need to think about how to make this environment safe and make sure we are making the right choices when we go out. We should utilize Campus Safety and the self-defense courses offered every year.
Currently, there is a proposal for video security cameras to be placed in select areas of campus, which would further monitor such actions. Roger says they will be here. However, these cameras don’t exist yet.
If you would like to see further actions taken, such as the cameras on campus, let administrative officials know. Knox students pride themselves on being able to advocate for all sorts of causes around the world. Let’s advocate for our own safety.
Schlaf will be at the Student Senate meeting on Thursday to talk about safety. See you there.