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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Editorial: Safety, not security measures, appropriate response to assault”

    We don’t yet know all the details about the sexual assault at Coronado Residence Hall last Wednesday. But the fact that it was the second sexual assault in less than two years ought to make us question whether or not we’re doing all we can to keep our campus safe.

    Usually when something catastrophic occurs, our first impulse is to demand drastic changes: security cameras, stricter regulations, additional police patrols. Anything to make us feel more safe, regardless of whether we actually are.

    These measures, however, won’t automatically make us safer. Strangers can’t gain access to dormitories without CatCards. Coronado was just fitted with new security cameras last year, not long before the April 12 assault at Manzanita-Mohave.

    According to police, the man accused of the assault, who is not a student, was admitted to the dorm by the victim’s roommate. We don’t want to put the blame on anyone -ÿthe responsibility for any assault lies with the perpetrator.

    The way to remove the threat of sexual assault in the dorms – and violence in general on and around campus -ÿis not to introduce draconian security measures. The solution is simply to act safer – to maintain a high level of alertness, personal responsibility and plain common sense.

    As Sgt. Juan Alvarez of the University of Arizona Police Department told the Wildcat last week, the key to remaining safe is remaining “”aware of your surroundings.”” Unfortunately, most students aren’t aware of their surroundings, and the evidence is all around us.

    Just look at one of the most common sights on campus: student pedestrians wandering into the street, seemingly half-oblivious to their surroundings, engrossed in a conversation or composing a text message on their cell phone.

    Students aren’t any more alert when they get behind the wheel. A 2006 study showed that 80 percent of all drivers on the road are doing something in addition to driving, and that drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 are four times more likely than other drivers to be involved in distraction-related accidents.

    The most common distraction? Dialing their cell phones. This simple act is something we all do every day, but it still requires one’s full concentration for a second or two. In that time, the world around you doesn’t stop -ÿother cars keep moving and pedestrians keep walking. But for the moment, you’ve removed yourself from that world. For a second or two, you’re utterly vulnerable to an accident.

    Technology, we often hear, is meant to make us more efficient. But its actual effect is often to make us less alert to the world around us. Our actions become more and more automatic. Even safety measures can hurt us by making us complacent; why should we bother being safe when our machines will take care of us?

    So when someone rings the bell, we open it for them – why not? The other nine times we answered the door, it was a student. Why shouldn’t it be this time?

    Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes that driver doesn’t have time to stop and sometimes that man at the door is a stranger.

    Tucson is a dangerous city. According to cityrating.com, its crime rates for virtually all violent crimes – murder, rape, aggravated assault -ÿare higher than the national average. According to the TPD Web site, there have been 215 reported sexual assaults in Tucson this year, and 25 more attempted ones.

    We can fight this as a community, but safety begins with the individual. We need to forget the habits of complacency we’ve developed and develop new habits of safety.

    Last weekend, several Marana neighborhoods got together throughout the town to talk about safety. Why not take a cue from them? The UA – or individual dormitories – could hold safety dialogues where students could get to know each other and talk about the best ways to make their dorms safer places to live. That would be far more effective than mere verbal warnings about not letting in strangers.

    We don’t have to look on every Tucsonan with distrust, and it would be a shame if we let fear and unease seep into our lives. But this awful event reminds us that we all need to take greater precautions for ourselves and for each other in order to maintain a safe community.

    Editorials are determined by the Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Andi Berlin, Justyn Dillingham, Lauren LePage, Lance Madden and Nick Seibel.

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