WKUPD and freshman share safety tips for female students

Shauntia Townes (left), a psychology major at WKU, punches a pad held by WKU Police Department Chief Mitch Walker. Walker hosted a session on Nov. 5, 2020, for WKU students over self defense and staying safe on campus.

Living on a college campus can create a lot of worries for female students, especially regarding walking around campus alone, being around new people, and being unfamiliar with the area.

While being on campus can create a lot of new fears for students, there are many safety resources available on campus, as well as information that could be helpful during a dangerous situation.

#1 – Learn about resources available 

The WKU Police Department is located directly on-campus and is available to contact in a time of emergency. Chief of the WKU Police Department, Mitchell Walker, said that it’s important that students know to contact the police in case of an emergency or even just a concern. 

“Familiarizing yourself with the police department and how to contact the police department,” Walker said.  “For example, have those cell numbers saved in your cell.”

Another resource that is helpful specifically for students spending a lot of time on campus is to learn where the emergency blue light poles are located. 

“If you push the blue light button, it will start flashing, and then it rings right to our dispatch center,” Walker said. “You will talk directly to a dispatcher. For the majority of those blue lights, there’s a video camera where our dispatchers can turn the camera so they can see everything going on..”

The WKU Police Department offers an escort service from dusk until dawn for students on campus. 

“If you feel unsafe walking on campus from the library to back to your dorm or when you leave class, then you can call us and we’ll respond,” Walker said. “We’ll either give you a walking escort back to wherever you’re going, or you can ride in our police car.”

Another resource that commuters or students who drive often can use is the motor vehicle assistance service offered by WKU Police Department if their car ever needs a jump while they are on campus. 

“We assist with motor [issues] if you have some kind of issues with your vehicle, let us know,” Walker said. “Most of the officers can guide you in the right direction, get you to tow service or jumpstart your car. So most of us have a little bit of knowledge about how vehicles work and things so you’ll make sure your vehicles work well.”

#2 – Take a self-defense class

Having some kind of self-defense experience can be helpful in a dangerous situation and typically teaches someone ways to get out of it.

There are several local places that teach self-defense, or martial arts such as Kentucky Grapplers, Arumaru Martial Arts Center, and Sentou Dojo.

“You could do some self-defense classes,” Walker said. “There’s a ton of others around locally, we have one [that is] probably getting revamped that a little bit, since that change of our public information officer, but just taking a self-defense class is something I would recommend. Sometimes it’s not about necessarily being able to find but understanding the postures of a suspect or somebody that was gonna attack you.”

#3 – Be aware of surroundings

Whether a person is walking around late at night or is just worried about their safety, it is always important to be aware of what is going on in that area.

Joyce Augustine is a freshman studying journalism from Louisville. She said she avoids walking alone at night unless she has to. 

“I make sure that I don’t leave my building at night that often unless it’s for a class or if I’m with a group of people,” Augustine said. “I bought pepper spray at the beginning of the year but it just sits on my desk since I personally don’t feel the need to carry it around yet.”

Walker said being alone at night opens up opportunities to walk into a dangerous situation.

“A lot of things happen under the cover of darkness,” Walker said. “So people can hide in bushes and behind barriers, cars and things like that. So just being aware [and] keeping your head and swiveling when you’re walking around, thinking [about] something that could happen.”

#4 – Anything can be used as a weapon when needed

While weapons are prohibited on WKU’s campus, many items could be used as a weapon during a dangerous situation. Many women on campus carry pepper spray or small defensive keychain items. 

Brianna Barley is a freshman studying nursing from Louisville. She carries pepper spray with her when walking around. 

“To stay safe on campus, I always carry mace with me to hopefully protect me if something bad happens,” Barley said. “I also try to avoid walking alone.”

Chief Walker said anything could be used as a weapon in a dangerous situation, especially since students are not supposed to bring weapons on campus.

“You can use a lot of things as defensive weapons to [such as] water bottles or keys,” Walker said. “You can use it to keep them away from you.”

#5 – Watch your drink while in public

A common worry for typical female college students while out drinking or maybe just anywhere, is a person slipping a drug into their drink.

The easiest way to avoid that is to keep a drink close or to get a new one anytime a drink is left unattended.

“You’re sitting there drinking something and then you sit it down you know, that’s my jam right there,” Walker said. “Don’t drink it when you go back. Somebody slips I mean, you know, they put GHB or something like that and put that in there. And then they’re watching you and you drink, and then you’re a victim.”

#5 – Share your location

Living in an age where tracking your friends has never been so easy, it can be so easy if a person hasn’t been heard from to locate where they are if there is a possibility of a dangerous situation.

Public Information Officer Melissa Bailey said to share details of your plans with a friend so they can reach out if there is any concerns.

“Tell tell your roommate ‘Hey, here’s this person’s name that I’m going to meet them at Starbucks at this time. And then we’re gonna go to O’ Charley’s at this time,” Bailey said. “I’ll plan to be home around 10:30 if I’m not, shoot me a text and saying ‘Hey, I’m just checking on you.”

Safety tips provided by the WKU Police Department: https://www.wku.edu/police/safetytips.php 

Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy