Safe and scared

Going to work this week has been, well, scary.

On Monday evening, four UAB students were held up at gunpoint in an on-campus garage. They were robbed, sexually assaulted and beaten before the suspect ran for the elevators–showing his mug to the surveillance cameras in the process. Police have finally released a name, but the perpetrator is still on the loose.

Two of the students sit in my classroom, eyes focused on their work. Determined to keep moving forward with their plans for a positive college experience.

Everyone on campus is feeling anxious. Parking is remote, if there is in fact an empty space by the time you arrive to the university. Classes run late some nights, and students and faculty make their way, solo or in small groups, to cars and dorms.

It’s a new kind of survivorship. We’ve issued complaints, insisting that the university provide better security–more police officers assigned to the area, better lighting, closer parking, improved locks on doors in particular buildings. We’re waiting in hope that safer comes sooner rather than later.

I find myself wondering how this recent incident will affect my students in the long run. For now, they put one foot in front of the other.

I hope they find some peace once the suspect is apprehended, but I doubt they will ever again feel completely safe.


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