I'm sure that on the topic of college safety, as freshmen, we've all heard the same similar things repeated: "Use the buddy system," "Utilize your college campus security/police," "Be aware of your surroundings." Though we know college assaults, stalkings and more are very real, many do not explicitly want to actively believe, "Yes, this could be me." I know I personally didn't think I would experience anything of the like, but I was proven wrong.
It was barely after 9 p.m. and I had just gotten out of a sorority meeting that always meets in a large lecture hall in the middle of campus. Being one of the first girls to leave, I walked towards my bike so I could go back to my dorm and get ready for the week ahead of me, seeing as it was a typical lazy Sunday evening.
As I hopped onto my bike, I noticed a guy, not much older than I was, lazily leaning on his bike near a light post. He nodded towards me and casually said "hi" and asked what I was doing. Not paying too much attention to him, I said I was on my way home and biked in the other direction. The air was cool and though my campus is not heavily lit, I had never felt scared biking alone in the evening. I looked up to the sky and saw the stars I usually don't get to see back in my hometown and looked behind me causally only to notice the same guy who had spoken to me earlier was biking strangely close behind me. Trying to not spook myself or think too rashly, I tried biking a little faster (but not too obviously) and took a few extra turns back to my dorm only to realize, to my horror, he was still closely behind. As I was making a turn in a bike circle, he tried speaking to me again and said in a louder tone, "Where do you live?"
I couldn't help but shudder. As I got to the main road before the turn to the dorms, I saw two girls walking and immediately stopped and began speaking to them although I had never seen them. I believe they picked up on what was happening as they looked in my direction to his. All the while, he stopped and lazily lounged on his bike right across from us. My voice was shaky even though I tried my best to make my voice sound casual and pretend like nothing was wrong. Though it felt like half an hour, it must have been only a few minutes before my new "friend" decided to give up and bike away all the way down the street and turn somewhere else.
I got home and the minute I opened the door, my roommate knew something was wrong. I told her everything that happened and she asked me why I didn't call her or the campus police. The thing was, I didn't want the guy following me to notice I was calling anyone in case he panicked and would attempt to stop me from doing so. I didn't bike quickly away because if he decided to go faster as well, I would have almost no chance, seeing that I was no closer to an athlete than the cows that live across from me were.
It's been a week or so since this event occurred and though it was reported to the police, there wasn't much they could do and I knew it. Even still, I avoid biking at night alone and don't park my bike in the same area where I ran into him even though I have three classes in that same lecture hall where my sorority meeting was. Therefore, even though college safety may seem like common sense, please remember to be careful and take care of yourself and loved ones. Research campus safety options and learn what to properly do if you find yourself in a certain unsafe situation. Unfortunately, scary things that happen, at times, are not in our control.
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