If you are a student and check your JMU e-mail frequently, you would have noticed that this semester we have received more than a few Madison Alerts. While most people might not pay much attention to these Alerts, it’s important to recognize that sexual assaults are happening to actual, real-life people and it’s dangerous to become desensitized to such happenings.

The point here isn’t to scare anyone; rather, I’m here to offer some precautions so everyone is equipped to be as safe as possible. If you choose to go out, here are some things to keep in mind to protect yourself to the very best of your ability:

  • Go out and stay close with a group of friends that you trust. This may seem like common sense but there is absolutely no harm in having an extra set of eyes on you and your surroundings. If a situation seems wrong, it probably is. Make sure everyone in your group is accounted for and remove yourself from a potentially dangerous situation. It is better to err on the side of safety.
  • Use mobile safety communications platforms like the LiveSafe app. This app has many great features that promote safety: from allowing your friends to watch you walk/being able to watch your friends walk, to reporting anything suspicious or dangerous, to contacting 911 or the campus police while sharing your location. This is one of those apps that you want now rather than later.

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  • Bring your own water/drink with you. Again, another common sense bit of advice but it’s not uncommon to hear about someone being slipped something without their knowledge. NEVER consume anything you don’t have control of. You should be the only person who can dictate what you can and cannot do; another person should never have that power.
  • In the event that something does happen, find someone you feel comfortable with and can talk to. JMU’s Campus Assault ResponsE (CARE) has a wonderful hotline that offers support and information for survivors. Their phone number (540-568-6411) can be found on the back of everyone’s JACard. Additionally the JMU Title IX coordinator can be contacted at 540-568-6991.
  • Look out for your fellow Dukes and remember the lessons taught in Dukes Step Up! In a crisis situation, we often fall prey to the bystander effect – a phenomena where the more people witnessing a bad situation, the less likely anyone is to get involved. If a situation feels like it’s getting out of control, call the police, your RA/Hall Director or the campus police (for emergencies, call 540-568-6911 and for non-emergencies call 540-568-6913). If you witness something and wish to report to the police, you can fill out a Silent Witness Report. All information is kept confidential.

Sexual assault is inexcusable on every level and we, as a student body, must do everything we can to stand up against it. This topic is dense and difficult to discuss at times, but being able to talk about it allows room for awareness and liberation. Use your Dukes Step Up! knowledge and let’s keep the number of Madison Alerts down.

Just a reminder to always stay safe, Dukes!

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