It’s 10:15 at night. The dim street lamps give the sidewalk a yellow glow as your feet hit the ground at a quick pace. You feel a presence behind you, but you’re too scared to turn around, afraid that whoever it is behind you will start running. You keep your head forward, legs going faster than before, making sure it doesn’t look like you’re the one running, but still walking quickly enough to make it to a well-lit area or an area with other people around. Your head starts to pound thinking of worst-case scenarios: Will they kidnap me? What if they have a gun? Once you get to your destination, there’s an imprint on your hand of where you were gripping your keys in the event they need to be used as a makeshift weapon.
With the rise in missing people around the United States, it is a dangerous time not only to walk alone, but to be a woman and walk alone. Yes, I know, “We are strong women. We don’t need men.” And yes, we are. The problem is that when you’re 5 feet 5 inches and weigh about 140 pounds, unless you have a weapon or have been trained to fight, anyone over 5 feet 10 inches will dominate you physically. It’s scary. Truthfully, even walking with a group of women (or anyone for that matter) isn’t enough to protect you. There are signs that can tell you when someone is following you, and yes, you can avoid it. But what if said person has a weapon? What are your fists going to do when the barrel of a handgun is pointed at you? What happens when that pepper spray on your keychain not only gets into their eyes but also yours? Will you run blindly?
My point is, it’s dangerous out there. When I find myself walking to the Strip after dark with my friends and notice someone walking behind us, my pace picks up. After a few trips to the Strip at night, I noticed something: good ol’ Bryant-Denny was lit up like a Christmas tree. You would think the sidewalk I was walking on would also be lit up in a similar manner, right? Wrong. I could barely see my own two feet as my friend and I walked. Why can an unused stadium be lit up when our sidewalks that are heavily used cannot? I get it – maybe it’s not school property. But as I walked across the Quad, I noticed one emergency blue light station on the inside of the Quad. Only one. If someone was in trouble, and let’s say they were a good distance away from the singular emergency blue light, how are they supposed to reach the light in time if their legs are shorter than their followers’? I guess you would just have to be faster. Not everyone is a superstar at track though, so we have to ask what happens to them. Do we just leave them to be kidnapped or murdered? How are we supposed to protect ourselves when our resources are so dangerously limited?