I am just your average student. I live off campus in an apartment. I often spend weeknights at the library and weekend nights out around Columbus. And when I finish my homework or leave the party I’m at, I walk home. 

Recently I took my usual walk down Pearl Street back to my apartment at about 7 p.m.

As I reached the intersection of 17th Avenue and Pearl Street, a cop pulled up next to me and asked me to please be careful walking alone.

I was thankful he stopped. I felt protected knowing that a higher authority, this police officer, was looking out for me. 

However, when I really began to think about the situation, it seemed absurd. It was unfortunate that it was necessary for a police officer to pull me over to make me feel safe in a place I call home.

But at what point do we, as students, get to feel safe around this campus? When it’s dark out, I personally walk on High Street, yet I feel weary of the people that line the street, often calling things out at me as I hastily walk back to my apartment.

On Pearl Street, even during broad daylight, it’s not uncommon to run into someone who makes me feel the need to check my peripherals and observe the shadows around me.

On top of these circumstances, I’m often alone, like many students that walk to and from campus to their off-campus housing. It is not practical to have someone walk with you everywhere. We are all individuals with our own schedules and it is inevitable that we will have to travel places alone.

With the recent chain of events this academic year on and around campus, from armed robberies to sexual assaults, it is clear that no one is safe, as unsettling as that might be to admit.

The unfortunate reality is that there are people out there who are going to set out to steal from you, harm you or sexually assault you. It is terrifying and inhumane, but it isn’t avoidable.

It is important to always be aware of your surroundings. If you ever feel even the slightest bad feeling about walking alone, don’t. There are plenty of other options to ensure safety. Call a friend or an Uber to drive you, or stay the night where you are and walk home in the morning.

We cannot be mindless when walking the streets of Columbus like I was. Yes, it seemed crazy at the time that I was deemed unsafe by a police officer, but by no means are we safe from these criminals.