Our Opinion: Being safe in an unsafe world

The world as we know it has become frightening. Physical and sexual violence is on the rise, especially amongst women. But this should not discourage any female from learning to defend herself.

After speaking with chief of the University police department, Ken Kennedy, we gained insightful information and tips on how to stay safe and aware.

As college students, we all know what it’s like to have busy schedules, but we all like to have a social life as well. We know there is always that risk of something happening.

According to recent statistics, people whose age range is 18 to 34 are at a 54 percent risk of being sexually assaulted, one of the highest percentages out of all other age ranges. 

Unfortunately for females, there is a much higher rate of sexual assault. Kennedy stresses it is never the victim’s fault, but always the attacker’s fault. 

“I tell girls if you’re gonna go to a party and there’s gonna be drinking involved, go with groups of three or four, and make a pact that you will all leave together so that if anybody gets administered a rape poison drug then everybody can make sure that doesn’t happen.”

Kennedy also stressed how alcohol is considered a date rape poison all on its own for women.

“When you give yourself enough alcohol to make it to where you can’t make good decisions and you can’t really understand situations, you put yourself at risk,” he said. 

There is a strict rule he wishes to encourage everyone to practice while drinking, and that is: no more than one drink per hour with food. 

Fortunately, there is an easily accessible solution to keeping safe. Kennedy offers a one credit hour self-defense course for females through Kinesiology. Day and evening classes are offered in the fall and spring, and female students can enroll during fall semester to prepare for the upcoming spring course. 

“It’s always full. There’s always a waiting list. I’ve opened it up to 25 per class. I had it capped at 20 before. I just don’t like turning people away because I really want them to know how to defend themselves,” said Kennedy.

The course teaches a multitude of physical self defense mechanisms as well as picking up on red flags while on a date with a gentleman to detect if he is a sexual predator.

There’s been more incentive to take the course since students gain one more hour for their transcript. 

Some helpful hints when walking to your vehicle during day or nighttime hours, it is best to check under and inside your vehicle. 

At night, it is deeply encouraged to park in a well-lit area and to always lock up.  At night never walk alone, but with a small group or even just a couple of friends. 

There is no curfew for students, as we are all adults here, but when it comes to the dorms, doors should be locked at night and never be propped open. This just literally opens the door to anything that can potentially happen.

As most students are aware, there is a blue emergency light at the entrance of the tunnel, and it is directly connected to the University Police Department. The other emergency contact station is located at the UPD.

“We contract with the Joplin Police Department and they dispatch us to our radio. There’s always back up regardless even if there’s one officer on campus,” said Kennedy.

The University Police Department is always here, 24/7, including holidays, nights and weekends. Each day, the campus is patrolled as officers look for parking violations, strangers on campus, unknown vehicles, as well as people walking late at night.

Just a couple of important things Kennedy would like everyone to know: 

Through the Green Dot Program the department is letting people know they can step up and stop somebody that’s doing power based personal violence against another person.

Also, students are the eyes and ears of the police department.  Students help keep the department informed about things happening on campus.