Living in Jamaica, I have had to adopt a sense of quasi-paranoia about my whereabouts at all times. It almost seems ridiculous to mention the two places in the same breath — they seem to be on opposite sides of the safety spectrum. Jamaica, infamous for its violence, can in no way be compared to Georgetown. But I have learned that a person’s safety is never guaranteed, no matter how peaceful his environment may seem.
The recent, brutal murder of a young woman in a nearby Bethesda, Md., athletic clothing store has deeply affected me. The circumstances under which it occurred should have never been permitted: The store was not equipped with any security cameras, and there was no security guard present to protect the women who were closing up that Friday night. The situation one of the young female store clerks found herself in was a vulnerable one, to say the least.
In response, as I have been told by an employee of the same retail chain, corporate heads are making drastic changes to their security policies. Yet I am disappointed that it took a tragedy of this immensity to spark an increase in security measures at the company’s retail outlets. Perhaps they assumed that in an area as quiet as Bethesda, such measures would not be necessary. Too often are seemingly safe environments like these taken for granted.
Last semester’s string of Village A thefts are a perfect example of students’ disregard for their own safety on campus. Most of these robberies resulted from negligent residents who simply didn’t lock their apartment doors behind them. While the school’s campus and its surrounding areas may not be the bustling, high-paced area that is downtown Washington, D.C., it’s important to not allow the so-called ‘bubble’ to be disarming.
The kind of recklessness displayed by some students is simply frightening. Nearly once a week, a Public Safety Alert is sent out, informing the Georgetown community that a stranger assaulted a student late at night as they walked home. While I am not in any way justifying these attacks, it’s naïve to believe that since Georgetown is such an upscale area, one doesn’t need to be as vigilant and cautious as anywhere else.
This considerable disregard for safety is juxtaposed with the growing obsession with crime dramas. A new series premieres almost every season. “CSI,” “Law and Order” and other shows portray some of the most heinous and imaginative crimes on a nightly basis. By accepting violence as entertainment, have we as the viewers become too far removed to internalize what happens in our own communities and adopt more vigilant safety precautions? Whatever the case, students need to do away with the dangerous belief that “It can’t happen to me.”
Movies like “Saw” and “American Psycho” have made me second-guess the innocent-looking man at the bus stop. But I look around, and I can see that nobody else shares these thoughts. American culture seems to foster a false sense of invincibility.
I will concede that it can be hard to keep one’s guard up at all times, especially in an area not known for violence. But I have learned that it is important to always practice the most basic safety precautions. Instead of walking alone, go out in pairs. Keep valuables out of plain sight. Take the extra two minutes and make sure your apartment is secure. After all, prevention is the best cure.
Nneka Jackson is a junior in the College. CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF appears every other Tuesday.