Letter: Safewalk is no longer a “nice option” for me

To the guy in my Safewalk car:

I really didn’t anticipate bumping into you last night. As a religious Safewalk user who uses the service to return home from across campus at night, I’ve only ever encountered other women sharing the service with me.

I swear I’m not the type of person to judge. I don’t know if you have some sort of crippling fear or feel genuinely unsafe on this campus, and I apologize if that’s the case. However, I do know that Safewalk sounds like a way more appealing option than waiting for the bus and that there are many others out there who feel this way. My message is for all of you.

I’ve always followed the rules. They tell you to walk in groups, stay alert and follow the lit path. After too many 1 a.m. catcalls with keys clenched between my fists, I knew that these rules were in place for a reason. Especially after all of the assault and intruder reports last month, taking Safewalk was no longer a “nice option” for me. Taking Safewalk was a promise to myself and the people around me that I would get home okay.

As a woman who feels vulnerable on this campus at night, my reasons for taking Safewalk differ from yours. It surprised me to see a rather large, somewhat intimidating-looking male sitting in the backseat of the Safewalk car. You probably don’t realize this, but you’re the exact type of person I take Safewalk to avoid running into late at night. You might call it paranoia, but my doctor and I call it post traumatic stress disorder. Being a victim of sexual assault means that every extra half hour I have to wait to use this service because of the people who are abusing it is another half hour I’m left feeling vulnerable and insecure.

I recognize this is a service open to everyone, but I hope you recognize that this service solely operates to serve students that are uncomfortable walking alone. If you’re the type of person who would abuse this service for the sake of convenience, maybe you should just stay home.

The author of this letter is a first-year UBC student. In accordance with her wishes and due to the sensitive nature of this subject, The Ubyssey is maintaining her anonymity.