Students don’t think of The University of Southern Mississippi as a dangerous place to live, but there are always dangers to walking alone at night.
Regardless of our gender and size, we all have to take measures to protect ourselves.
One USM junior found that out the hard way. On condition of anonymity, she shared her story. In her freshman year, she was abducted while walking back to her dorm from The Village.
“I wasn’t paying any attention to what I was doing,” she said. “I saw the car there, but didn’t turn around to look when people got out. Next thing I knew, I had two people grabbing me. One had an arm around my neck, the other had my legs to keep me from kicking.”
She was forced into the trunk of a car and taken.
“I was in the trunk, panicking, when I remembered my dad telling me about emergency handles in trunks of newer cars… when the car came to a stop, I pulled it and ran out through traffic on Hardy Street.”
She ran back to campus and sought the support of her boyfriend and her family. However, she never reported her abduction to the police. “I didn’t get a look at the car or the people,” she said. “But I should have [reported it anyway].”
Alex Maung, a junior philosophy major, has been studying Kung Fu for about a year.
“I study it half for the self-defense and half for the philosophy of it,” he said. “I’m actually a pacifist.”
Maung said this mode of protecting himself is perfect for him.
“To be responsible in your self defense, I recommend Kung Fu,” he said. Some people will teach you self defense to the extreme, but that’s usually either not an option or not a responsible option.”
Erin Curley, a senior graphic design major, focuses on not making herself a target when walking alone at night.
“I am alert of my surroundings and I’m good at having a “mean” face, and walking like I know exactly where I am and where I’m going,” Curley said.
Curley’s method might be the best and easiest way of protecting yourself, according to James Rothery. Rothery, 31, was a member of the Army Military Police for 10 years, and is now the chief martial arts instructor at the Martial Arts House on 40th Street.
“If you walk out being aware of yourself, that makes a potential threat less likely to attack you,” he said.
The Martial Arts House offers self-defense classes on Fridays at 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Rothery and his wife, Anna, will also host a free female defense seminar on Sept. 21 at 2 p.m.
“We’ll focus on situational awareness and a few basic self-defense techniques,” he said.
Safety on campus is everyone’s concern, but there is no need to be afraid. Stay with friends and keep a lookout.
University Police Department offers a 24-hour escort service. You can call for an escort from any of the red phones located in public areas throughout campus or by calling 601.266.5919.