The University of Colorado Springs made headlines recently with it’s recommendations for women student’s to avoid sexual assault:
1. Be realistic about your ability to protect yourself.
2. Your instinct may be to scream, go ahead! It may startle your attacker and give you an opportunity to run away.
3. Kick off your shoes if you have time and can’t run in them.
4. Don’t take time to look back; just get away.
5. If your life is in danger, passive resistance may be your best defense.
6. Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating.
7. Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.
8. Yelling, hitting or biting may give you a chance to escape, do it!
9. Understand that some actions on your part might lead to more harm.
10. Remember, every emergency situation is different. Only you can decide which action is most appropriate.
Of course, tips 6 and 7 got the most attention, especially in light of comments Colorado State Representatives Ulaberri and Salazar recently made about alternatives to defending oneself with a gun. Therefore, I decided to investigate whether these recommendations were unique, or if other universities made the same recommendations to their women students.
The following therefore started out as an alphabetical look at universities in each of the states* to see what their recommendations were, and whether or not they permitted concealed carry on campus:
-University of Alabama (no carry – legal weapons must be stored by campus police)
While it is never your fault if you are assaulted, there are measures you can take to decrease your chances of becoming a victim:
• Never accept a date from someone you don’t know, especially one that would involve being alone with the person.
• Avoid going to unfamiliar surroundings with someone you don’t know very well.
Never be overconfident when it comes to your safety. Removing the opportunity for sexual assault is a big part of protecting yourself. Staying sober is one of your best defenses.
-University of Alaska – Anchorage (no carry – legal weapons must be stored in campus gun safe or locked vehicle)
1. Check out your date with friends- If your friends don’t like your date or if a poor reputation precedes him or her, chances are that a secluded encounter may end badly. Insist on meeting at a crowded spot or with a group of friends.
2. Be prepared to find your own transportation home- Make sure your cell phone is fully charged before going out. Check your cell phone periodically for a signal. Make sure you take enough money for a taxi. Or take your own vehicle and meet your date at the planned location.
3. Clearly state your limits beforehand- Let your date know your limits and intentions early on. Open discussions by both parties can often times reduce the stress of a first date and make it more relaxed and fun.
4. Don’t get drunk or stoned-Alcohol and drugs decrease your inhibitions and make you vulnerable to be taken advantage of. Highly intoxicated females have occasionally become easy victims of preplanned gang rapes by male party throwers.
5. Trust your instincts- If you think something is wrong or you feel uneasy – end the date. You can always explore the reasons for the feeling later in a safe place. Don’t assume that you are wrong because there is no obvious evidence that this person is a creep.
6. Fight or Flight? The decision to fight your attacker is strictly a personal one. A lot of people have been successful in fighting armed and dangerous attackers – but most of the time these confrontations end tragically. Even if you do decide to fight – your primary goal is escape. The key is survival.
7. Call the police- Many rapes go unreported. Survivors often feel that their peers will blame them, not believe them, or their social status will be affected. Others do not want their attacker (former friend) to get in trouble or they do not want their parents knowing they are an assault survivor. All of the reasons for not reporting have merit and validity but all Survivors must also be aware that a criminal who gets away with a crime once will very likely repeat the same crime. A stand must be taken by someone in order for this sexual predator to be stopped.
-University of Arizona (no carry – legal weapons may be stored in a locked vehicle if not visible from outside)
WHEN GOING OUT, let your roommate, a friend, or a staff member know where you are going, with whom, and when you expect to return. If you choose to stay out later, call that person and let him/her know.
AT NIGHT, travel in well lighted areas. Avoid taking shortcuts through dark or deserted areas. UTILIZE SERVICES WHICH PROVIDE ADDED SAFETY. This is a safe and free way to travel between UA buildings and parking lots during the evening hours. The ASUA Safe Ride telephone number is 520-621-SAFE (7233). Parking & Transportation Services Night Cat at 520-626-PARK (7275).
WALK FACING TRAFFIC whenever possible. This increases awareness of potential traffic hazards and also reduces the possibility of being followed by someone in a vehicle. Avoid walking by the curb or near buildings or shrubbery. Walk in the middle of the sidewalk with confidence.
IF YOU FEEL THREATENED or suspect that you are being followed, walk toward lighted areas where there are people. Look over your shoulder frequently – this lets the follower know that you are aware of both his/her presence and your surroundings.
EMERGENCY BLUE LIGHT PHONES give you direct access to UAPD. Blue lights mark their locations. Use these telephones to contact the police department for any reason. A police officer will respond to all blue light phone calls whether the caller was able to say anything or not.
(Note – the university also distributes whistles)
-University of Arkansas (no carry – weapons prohibited unless supervised by ROTC)
- If you absolutely have to walk alone, walk on well lighted walkways and plan your route ahead of time. Avoid places where attackers might hide (spaces between parked cars, overgrown shrubs, dark passageways) and area where you might get cornered. Remember, it is best to walk facing traffic.
- If anyone follows you, look confident and let them know you are aware of their presence. Don’t be polite or engage in conversation.
- If they continue to follow you, cross the street and/or change directions.
- If this doesn’t work, walk toward other people or occupied buildings and stay away from places where you might get cornered.
- If someone in a car follows you and is persistent or becomes obscene, write down the license number and report it to the University Police as soon as possible.
- Ask for assistance from the University Police Department if you are frightened or concerned.
(Note – the university offers a Rape Aggression Defense class)
*At this point, you get the idea. The recommendations provided by all of these universities are similar, and generic in helping to avoid situations that may lead to personal danger. I see no point in running down the same list over and over for universities in all 50 states. Therefore, I decided to skip to a school that is known to allow concealed carry on campus to see if there was a difference:
-University of Utah (concealed carry allowed – subject to provisions of state law)
Sexual assault in any form, including acquaintance rape, violates Utah law and will not be tolerated.
The University of Utah has established:
Procedures to respond to violations of these laws,
Programs aimed at the prevention of such conduct, and
Medical and counseling resources to help assault victims.
Particularly interesting to note is that the one university above that allows concealed carry on campus (in accordance with state concealed carry laws) did not feel the need to provide the same generic list of suggestions as the schools that do not permit guns on campus.
Now while the list of recommendations provided by the schools listed above are useful, common sense suggestions to avoid situations that may lead to situations were a personal assault could happen, I don’t think that anyone would argue that having a gun to protect oneself would be desirable to vomiting on a would-be rapist. One would only hope that the rest of the state university systems will eventually come around.
For a comprehensive list of schools that allowed concealed carry on campus, you can visit the interactive map at www.armedcampuses.org. Keep in mind, however, that this is a site devoted to keeping guns off college campuses, so read with caution. I find, however, that opposition sites can sometimes have the most comprehensive data available (due to their fervent opposition).