Hindsight

Naive is never a word I would normally use to describe myself. I may seem like a goofy girl sometimes, but I’m always watching, always paying attention, always checking my surroundings.

I spook easily and it doesn’t take much for me to have that gut feeling that something isn’t right, even when there is no real reason for me to think that. I’m just jumpy and I have way too much of an imagination for my own good. I also read too many murder mysteries growing up.

But after last night, I’m just….uneasy.

My undergrad was in a small, safe town. I would run the loop at 10pm without a second thought. You see people walking across campus at night and I have never heard of an incident. If I wanted to leave the fraternity house before my friends were ready, I would just walk back to my dorm alone. It never even crossed my mind that anything would happen. When the ice storm hit and half the state was without power, it was as organized as an event like that can be. The school made sure the students would be warm and safe and taken care of. No problems.

But last night, for some reason that I still have not heard why, the power went out to most of this city, including the university.

2 friends and I were in the library when it happened. Being in a huge building like that and then having it go pitch black is a little creepy. But the generators kicked in and the emergency lights came on, which in the library, made it still bright enough to work and read. We stayed for a while and then decided to call it a night.

Our campus is surrounded by woods, and even has woods in the middle of campus. As we left the library, the full impact of being on a campus without power hit us. We were going to go up to our offices and drop stuff off, but one look at the massive building with dark hallways and we decided we would just go to our cars.

After the hours of 4pm, students with certain car tags can park where the faculty do. It had been raining, so we all parked in the covered parking garage. I assumed the university had generators and had some sort of emergency lighting.

Nope.

That parking garage was absolutely pitch black. You could not see a foot in front of you.

As we were walking up to it and realized it wasn’t lit, we started making jokes, but I think we were all trying to act tougher than we actually felt. It didn’t help that we could hear other students talking, but could not see anyone.

We all safely made it to our cars and we all drove home slowly, despite the fact that I almost hit a kid because he figured he was a pedestrian and the fact that there were no street lights and that he was wearing all black didn’t matter.

But as I drove past the largest dorms, which are a block from my apartment, I saw no less than 30 police cars with lights on and a couple ambulances. I called my friend who had to drive home the same way and we just wondered if a student was hit or if because of the power outage the police came to the dorms since it looked like the ONLY light was in the stairwells.

I heard sirens through most of the night,  but again, assumed it was college kids not willing to take turns at the intersections without power.

However, it turns out there was a small scale riot last night.

Well, the school’s official word is that it was an impromptu party that got out of hand, but that is just bs.

When over 1,000 students are breaking out in fights, shooting off fireworks, (some insist gunshots went off as well), breaking into cars and just destroying things, it’s not a party. 3 kids were taken to the hospital in ambulances. One girl was driving and stopped at an intersection and some guys broke into her car. (She was able to drive off, but with a shattered window and pretty shaken up.)

It has been a bit of an eye opener today. I guess I am naive. I never imagined that the power going out would cause problems like this. Even worse? That walk through the parking garage could have landed us on the front page of the news. Last night, I was creeped out, but the thought of any actual real danger just never occurred to me. I’m used to college campuses being a safe place.

Not so much anymore.

Next time, I’ll be calling campus police to escort me to my car. And I guess I really do need to buy some mace since I tend to work better at night and at school than during the day or at home.

Maybe this just makes me a little less naive. Just sad that “school” is no longer a safe haven.

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8 Comments

Filed under Freak Out Much?, Grad School?, Life After College, WTF

8 responses to “Hindsight

  1. I heard about that on the news. So scary. I can’t believe they had no lights in the parking low – major oversight on the school’s part! Glad you’re okay.

  2. In law school, I’d use the escort to the car service. Under Title IX, schools are supposed to report sexual assaults on campus, but most schools don’t/under report. Better to be safe than trying to convince a campus security officer/police officer/DA of the facts of your case after the fact.

    Trust me.

  3. Don’t forget that cell phones make excellent flashlights in an emergency! I think it’s always a good idea to be on the lookout. We have a security person that patrols our school parking lots in a golf cart. I even had one offer to drive me to my car late at night. I declined, but she kept an eye on me until I was safe in the car.

    I walk my dog in the morning when it’s still dark. I always try to keep a 360 view. And if I pass someone I make sure they keep on going. I’m always afraid they’re going to pass me and then turn and grab me. Never underestimate a scream though. People do not like to cause attention! Yell and fight!!

  4. Meredith

    I, too, have always thought of college campuses as “a bubble” where crime just isn’t likely. After I graduated, a student at my alma mater was carjacked, robbed, and ultimately killed as she was leaving the school library. It really changed my perspective, as it seems this has changed yours.

    I read once that you are less likely to be mugged/attacked/raped if you carry items that can be used as a weapon–even everyday things like an umbrella. This was determined after interviewing many repeat offenders; I wish I had a link to the study. Since then, I keep an umbrealla in my bag–rain or shine–and I’ve taken it out and carried it on several occasions when I felt less-than-safe. I also always have at least one mini flashlight on me at all times.

    If you are not in the habit of carrying these with you, I would start now!

  5. Wow, I’ve never heard of riots breaking out on a campus because of a power outage! I went to a big state school in Florida–we lost power all the time, but there were never any riots or anything like that! Definitely be safe walking around campus at night. I would always keep my keys in my hand threaded through my knuckles (good for punching someone if need be) and my cell as a flashlight in the other hand. Glad you and your friend made it out ok! 🙂

  6. Sonya

    That is so scary! I think I was naive until I lived in my first place and figured out that it wasn’t so safe. And even though I’m back in the small town I grew up in, I’m still really cautious. It’s been years ago now that a couple of friends were leaving an event at our local university and were almost robbed. I still can’t believe I used to walk after dark from my grad school classes to my car. I was usually never alone, there were usually other people headed that way but I always moved fast and kept my eyes peeled. You just never know. I’m glad you were ok.

  7. Wow, I remember you tweeting about the power going out but I hadn’t heard anything about the riot! That is a really scary thing to think back and imagine what could have happened. You’re smart to carry mace and utilize the campus security. That’s what they are there for! I’m glad you’re safe but it’s unfortunate that so much happened just because the power went out.

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