When Jared Rosine was recently attacked on his way home from a bar, he used a key as a weapon to fend off the attackers.
“I turned around and hit him with my keys. It drew blood, which distracted him, then I just yelled at them and took off sprinting,” said Rosine, a senior from Strasburg studying political science.
Like Rosine, some students question their safety and choose to take matters into their own hands by carrying means of protection. The Department of Public Safety urges students to not carry knives and projectile weapons, such as tazers and guns, because they can easily be turned on the victim.
Russ Thomas, crime prevention unit program coordinator for the DPS, said carrying knives or any type of projectile weapon on campus is illegal. He said there are alternatives such as whistles and pepper spray. He also said the best way to stay safe is to use the buddy system.
“There are so many obvious and easy steps that every person should be taking, especially when it is dark outside. For instance, walk with at least one other person and stay in well-lit areas,” Thomas said.
Rosine said he was unharmed and did not contact authorities because he got away and no longer felt threatened.
“It had happened to a couple of my friends before, but I never really thought anything of it,” Rosine said. “Now I’m not necessarily scared, but I am definitely more cautious.”
Thomas said he considers Carbondale to be a relatively safe city and there is no reason for students to be scared to walk on campus.
“We always want everyone to be cautious, but there is no reason that students shouldn’t feel comfortable to walk around their own campus,” he said.
Erin Wilson, an undecided freshman from Hoffman Estates, said when she came to the university she already had expectations of it being a dangerous campus.
“I heard a lot of stories, and for some reason SIUC has a bad reputation, so before I came to school I made sure to get some pepper spray,” she said.
Wilson said she now knows what she heard before coming to school was exaggerated, but she still always carries her pepper spray.
“You can never be too safe. Just because people aren’t constantly being attacked does not mean that it can’t happen to you,” she said.
Jeremy Young, a freshman from Decatur studying sports administration, said most of his friends carry knives.
“The knives are not huge or anything, but having a pocket knife or a small hunting knife just gives a sense of security,” he said.
In case of an attack, Thomas advises victims to observe their attacker. He said to look for tattoos, hair color, ethnicity, clothing or any other distinguishing features. He said the first thing a victim should do after being attacked is contact the police.
“The sooner we know about the incident, the more likely we are to find the attacker,” he said.
According to the DPS’ daily crime log, the most common crime is student-on-student theft. There have been nine reported thefts on campus in the last month. Thomas said last semester there were four reported robberies.
Rod Sievers, university spokesman, said campus safety is taken very seriously.
“It’s a main priority. We have staff on duty at all hours of the day ensuring everyone’s safety,” he said.
The DPS offers free rape aggression defense system class for women on weekends. More information and services are available on the DPS website.