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Students’ safety tied to personal responsibility

Last month, a civil jury ruled that Kimberly Delancey of New Port Richey was more than 50 percent responsible for her own death at the hands of a neighbor she hardly knew but invited into her home for drinks the night of her death.

The jury in the criminal case convicted the killer, but the civil trial was aimed at collecting damages from the apartment complex, which Delancey’s family felt was at fault.

While the court’s decision may seem apathetic and heartless, it does illustrate an interesting point.

Although crime victims are not responsible for the their attacker’s decision to prey upon them, they are still culpable for realizing harsh realities in a sometimes dangerous world. Therefore, it’s important they avoid placing themselves in vulnerable situations.

Over the past two weeks, there have been two separate robberies near USF to which county and University Police (UP) have responded. In July, a student was sexually assaulted in Magnolia Apartments by a dorm-mate and his guest.

College campuses are susceptible to crime, which may be further exaggerated by the large metropolis that surrounds USF.

Though it’s not the most socially favorable behavior, students must treat new individuals with a degree of suspicion and avoid trusting new people too quickly — despite the possible presupposition that a college campus is safer than the areas surrounding it.

Students need to act with caution on campus and elsewhere. Younger college women may be even more at risk of falling victim to criminals who favor targeting this group.

A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice found that 1 in 4 college women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape before they graduate.

USF has programs in place to help keep students safe. SAFE Team offers free golf cart rides for students, which is perfect for traveling across campus at night.

Accessed through OASIS, Guardian 911 alerts police when a student has not arrived at his or her pre-determined destination on time, and Smart 911 gives authorities necessary information that can help them react properly.

UP also offers self-defense classes such as “Rape Aggression Defense/Basic Physical Defense” and the “National Self Defense Institute/Self Defense Awareness and Familiarization Exchange.”

These programs, along with other options like “Blue Light” emergency phones, may help, but ultimately it often comes down to quick personal decision making.

Students are always susceptible to criminal acts, but thoughtful precautions may significantly reduce the chances for harm.

It’s critical that students understand the need for greater awareness and act accordingly.