Panty crime shows that safety is no laughing matter

By Alicia Williams

College is all about having fun, hanging out with friends, going to parties and performing stupid pranks. We’ve all seen the movies portraying college life as one endless joke, but when it comes to committing crimes, especially against women, nobody is laughing.

In June, an unnamed female U student bravely reported waking up in her Benchmark dorm to find a man pilfering through her panty drawer. My first reading of the news had me rolling my eyes and even letting out a little giggle, but then I thought about the woman and the shock and fear she must have felt finding a man in her dark bedroom. And I thought about how her once-safe world was shattered by a man invading her private space.

This was no prank. Breaking into another person’s bedroom to steal anything, even underwear, is a crime. And because the guy in this particular crime was never caught, we might never know if it was a silly prank, a dare or if he was a sick and twisted man with a perverted panty fetish.

What we do know is that this guy is showing the U campus a huge, neon warning sign that says he is comfortable with sneaking into others’ rooms and taking their things. This situation is a perfect example of what not to do, and it should serve as a safety reminder for all of us.

The U student apartments are supposed to be within secured access buildings. Basically, they have swipe-card entrances. However, anyone can tailgate you into the building. I know it’s uncool to ask a person following you into your building if they have a card, but do it: “Hey, what room are you in?” or “Are you visiting someone?” Take the time to question people you don’t know. Remember, your stuff could just as easily come up missing.

Next, lock all doors. You’re not in Kansas anymore. All you have to do is look around campus to notice a lot of people here are not students. TRAX conveniently departs from downtown and can possibly bring unsavory individuals directly to campus.

The dorm room doors open off of long halls to common areas shared by the tenants. Always lock this door, not just for your safety, but also for your roommates. If anyone loses a key, tell him or her to get it replaced immediately. Nobody should leave doors unlocked because their roomies don’t have their keys. Also, each individual’s bedroom has a locking door. Even though you’re all friends and you love and trust each other, never leave your bedroom door unlocked.

These are simple, easy safety tips our mothers have drilled into our brains since we were old enough to stay home alone. Why then, when you are far from home, would you not do it? Often you’re tired, or you forget, you might feel safe or maybe you’re just used to having others do it for you. But now is the most important time of your life because you are responsible for yourself. You can’t afford to make mistakes.

“Students’ view of the world and the choices that they make are the single most deciding factor on their safety,” said Sgt. Arb Nordgran of the U Police Department. “People tend to bring up that this was a silly crime, but how many other times have ladies been raped in their bedrooms? It wasn’t silly.”

Thankfully, the woman from Benchmark Plaza wasn’t seriously hurt, though I’m sure she will never forget that night and neither should any of us. We need to all remember that our actions have consequences, as well as our lack of action. We must be diligent in the care and concern with our personal safety and fellow students. Don’t allow the few wackos out there an opportunity to play their sick games. Be smart and stay safe.

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