My Friday night plans were as simple as any other college girl’s might be. I was going to grab dinner with my boyfriend, but I had to buy hair ties from the store first. I live in a dorm near the west side of the University’s campus, so a walk to CVS didn’t take long. It was getting dark out, and despite LSUPD’s claim of having officers regularly patrolling campus 24/7, I had not seen a single LSUPD officer.
I was walking back to my dorm through the Newk’s parking lot when a man started walking alongside me across the street. He was going toward campus, but he was an older man with tattered clothes, so I assumed he didn’t belong. In light of the recent occurrences on campus, I didn’t want to take any chances, so I asked my mom to stay on the phone with me. I made sure to walk behind him, but he kept slowing down to meet my pace.
While I was walking in between Newk’s and the LSU Student Health Center, the man turned to me and started unbuckling his pants. He showed me his penis and began to urinate.
I immediately called LSUPD, but after waiting for several minutes, I left before they arrived. LSUPD states it has over 70 full-time officers and the campus is patrolled 24/7. However, it appeared not one officer was in the area, one of the busiest on campus, in my time of need. It took days for them to follow up with me. I find all of these details ridiculous and unacceptable.
Just last week, there were several reported incidents that alarmed both University students and parents alike. On Jan. 28, a woman was robbed at gunpoint in a parking lot near the business college.
A man flashed his penis at me while walking alone at night, and all LSU has to say to us is “walk in pairs” or “don’t walk at night.” The Tiger Trails service has been unreliable for me and many others with extra long wait times.
I shouldn’t have to stay inside or walk with a buddy to be safe on campus. Crime is always going to exist, but the University should be taking far more measures to prevent it.
It seems as if crimes against white students are given more attention and detail than those against black women. I’m not just a woman, I’m a black woman. I live on a campus where just a few years ago, a racist sign was posted on a group of girls’ door at their apartment. These crimes are especially scary for people who carry the same intersectionality. What is the statement to girls battling crime from all angles?
We can’t stay inside forever. Not everybody has a buddy to walk with. It is insane how there are still parts of the University’s campus, particularly the one near the infirmary, where it can get pitch black at night. There should be more emergency call buttons, more places where LSUPD officers are posted and an easier way to see where and when crimes happen in real time. A man flashed his penis at me feet away from dorms and I had no way to make people aware besides social media.
There is a long conversation to be had addressing the safety concerns of the University community — maybe a town hall with LSUPD, University officials and students.
The University needs to step it up. Even if University officials think they’ve done everything they can do, it is clearly not enough because women still don’t feel safe. I don’t feel safe on this campus, and I know there is more to be done about it.
Olivia James is an 18-year-old mass communication freshman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Editor's note: This column has been edited from its original version to reflect updated details from LSUPD.