Do you really feel safe on campus?

By Jillian Smith
October 11, 2007

Before last semester, I felt very safe on campus. Being in the communications wing until 1 a.m. or later was the norm for me. I had a radio show 7 to 10 p.m. on Wednesday nights, which I was usually up there alone.

That all changed towards the end of the semester when a man I didn’t know, followed me into the radio station. The radio station doors are handicap accessible so they stay open for 10 seconds and then close automatically. I had gotten up to use the bathroom, and when I keyed myself in, he slipped in behind me. I sat down behind the board where the DJ sits, he sat across from me.

My heart stopped. Here was this man I had never seen before sitting across from me in the radio station, talking to me like nothing was out of the ordinary.

He asked me questions. I tried to dodge them as much as possible but it wasn’t working. He made me guess his age, he was 26, and when I asked him his name, he lied, told me it was another name and then laughed and told me his real name.

He began talking to me, intensely, about the War in Iraq, stating that he would never kill anyone, however, if he had to, he would. He continued to go into graphic detail of how he would kill someone.

I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do, where to turn. In retrospect, I could have picked up the phone, IMed someone on the computer, text messaged a friend, or even called over to my friend Kara Schneider who was in the adjoining production studio working on a project, but none of that came to mind.

He asked me to take him back to the CD wall. I froze. The CD wall was a whole separate room and if I left Kara’s vision, I figured I was dead. Here was this man, I had never seen on campus before, talking to me about killing someone, and asking me to step out of someone’s line of vision. I quickly said no, that I had to finish my radio show.

He decided that he had enough and told me he was leaving, however, he would try to come back next week so maybe I could get him on the air. He left the studio. I watched him leave the communications wing and ran into the production studio where Kara was working. I broke down, hysterically sobbing. Kara said she did not worry because she thought I knew the man, that if she would have known that I was in potential danger she would have came over and gotten me out of that situation.

I have never been so scared in my life. In a situation like that, you can only think the worst.

101 questions ran through my mind after the situation. Who was this man? Why was he on campus? Why was he in the communications wing? How did he get here? Why was it okay for him to just follow me in? My questions were never answered.

So, do I still spend my nights in the communication wing? Not alone. I will not walk back to my room in the dark anymore. I will not find myself alone on campus anymore.

I work at the mall on weekday nights. When I come home from work around 11:30 p.m. I have to park in Dixon and walk to West Res. I don’t do it by myself. I make a friend come with me or we meet half way.

So do I feel safe on campus? To an extent. Do I protect myself and observe my surroundings more carefully? You better believe I do. Do I feel that campus security should be upped? Hell yes. There should be something done, especially in the communications wing, for students who do projects late at night.

Thank God, Kara was in the other room and could keep an eye out on me. What would have happened if I was by myself, no security cameras or any other precautions taken?

I would, and still do, hate to think of what could have happened.

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Jillian Smith

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