Timely disappointments

Column by Hallie Beard, Opinion Editor

Once every few days, weeks or months, we all receive those sobering emails from campus safety labeled “Timely Warning.”

From what I’ve heard, alumni who still use their campus email still receive these notifications, grimly reminding them that, even if they’ve left the troubles of Murray State, there are still serious issues happening every day on campus.

There are times I’m merely annoyed by these emails – their clinical, non-human formulas for reporting the various sexual assaults are tiring for the psyche. But, usually, I’m disheartened and angered every time I see a message that yet another woman – and yes, males are victims too, but 99 percent of the emails in my inbox are about women – has been raped on our campus.

The email sent out on Tuesday, April 11 reported a woman was attacked in a parking lot. I was astounded by this news and particularly troubled at its implications.

Any time I’ve parked in a wrong zone for my tag or violated parking times in what I thought was an empty, no-one-will-see-me-here lot, I’ve gotten ticketed upon returning to my car. This has happened several times, and it’s often been after only minutes of leaving my car parked.

How is it that there are enough Racer Patrol guards lurking around parking lots at all hours of the day and night to catch a car in a wrong parking spot, but no one around to notice a student being attacked? The email reported the incident happened around 9 p.m., which has been prime ticketing time in my experience. Was this a case of bystander non-intervention, or were there actually no witnesses?

I’m not sure what measures must be taken to reduce the amount of sexual assaults on this campus, but I’ve had far too many emails in my inbox lately. It’s incredibly unsettling that our students are alerted about campus rapes in the same manner they’re alerted about homework assignments via Canvas email.

Chillingly frequent and casual, these alerts constantly remind us our campus is not as safe as we want to believe and our once-yearly Title XI training is not enough to significantly reduce or fix – what a wild idea – this problem.

The emails, too, only offer information with a victim-aimed, preventative slant. One bullet point in the “Safety Information and Protective Steps”  included in every one of these emails reads, “If you feel uneasy in a situation, Trust Your Instincts and try to interrupt the chain of events.”

The chain of events? Hold on.

This message is undeniably directed toward the (let’s face it) female victim, and it implies that an uncomfortable situation will inevitably lead to, what, rape? Sexual assault?

Is this really what university officials find necessary to remind students of every time this happens – that we should prepare to be victims and only hope to “interrupt” the inevitable attack coming our way? That’s not the Murray I know and have come to love.

The emails do feature a bullet point stating the only person responsible for an attack is the perpetrator, but that isn’t enough to convince me the overall tone isn’t problematic.

I’m hoping we’ll someday reach a point where a sexual assault is so rare on our campus that it causes a university-wide uproar and is dealt with immediately. I’m tired of assaults being bounced around in inboxes like tornado warnings.

Furthermore, if an attack has already happened, it’s no warning. It’s a grievance.