Abductions And Murders In A College Town: Do We Feel Safe?
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Politics and Activism

Abductions And Murders In A College Town: Do We Feel Safe?

I don't use my phone at night anymore. I walk with my head up, my eyes peeled.

Abductions And Murders In A College Town: Do We Feel Safe?

Going to college in a small town is honestly one of the greatest things you can do. Not only is your campus small, which allows for a nice walk to class and great opportunities to know a lot of the student body, but the closeness within the community helps make it great because you know that a lot of the community supports your university in some way. The only downside, however, to attending a university that's located in such a small town is that the entire student body and staff feel the effects whenever something happens within the community. And this, unfortunately, is exactly what happened at my school just last week.

On Tuesday September 13, 2016 the tragic news broke within the Ashland, Ohio community that a woman was found after being held captive, and within the home in which she was held, two deceased bodies were also discovered. Along with these bodies, another body was located just 30 minutes away in Mansfield, Ohio, and it was determined that this body was connected to the case in Ashland. You can imagine everybody's shock when this news broke because it was such a terrible circumstance. But what made it even worse was that it happened in this small town, a town where if you ask anybody they will tell you that not many bad things happen here. As a community, most everyone felt as though everything they knew about where they are living was altered. As a university, we felt something worse. We felt unsafe.

Being in college means being vulnerable. Vulnerable when it comes to being away from home, making friends, doing college course work, but also vulnerable when walking across campus. Here at Ashland University, from day one, we are told that this is a safe campus and that there are rarely any significant events that happen here that require safety measures to be put in place. You would think that hearing this would ease your mind, and you'd be right. Until that day when you wake up, and it doesn't ease your mind anymore.

You see, these abductions and murders happened not too far from our campus, and when the news broke, there was little information given about the ages of the women. We had no idea if these women were our age, no idea if there were still abductions happening, even with this man in custody. We just didn't know. And it was the unknowing that changed all of our perceptions of safety on campus. As students, we are told about all of the different safety measures and places to call if you need help, but at that time, it was not enough. Not knowing who could be walking around campus at night left us with an uneasy feeling as we came back from a late dinner in The Nest or walked back from a night class.

"I'm terrified."

"I'm paranoid; I was afraid to get out of my car earlier."

These are things said to me by a friend after discussing the events that took place. Our students felt unsafe, for probably the first time since they've been here, all because these terrible events happened in our small, university town. Throughout the week, you could see the groups of people walking around campus together. Was it because they conveniently ran into their friends on the way to class, or was it because they were afraid to walk alone? We might not know why so many people walked in groups for the rest of the week, but I can say that it was most likely because we felt unsafe. We are vulnerable, walking in the open in an area where, just a few blocks away, bodies were found in a home. That changes you. It changes the way you walk around campus at night. It changes you by ensuring that you tell someone where you are going and when you get there safe.

This horrible event that took place just last week, will forever change all of the students on Ashland University's campus. We walk in groups at night; we tell our friends and family when we are leaving and where we are going. We download apps where we hold buttons until we are safe. All of these things became a part of our lives all because of something that happened within our community.

Going to college in a small town can be great. But all it takes is one thing to happen for your entire realm of safety to be put into question. This is what happened to us. This is what we are going through right now. The world is changing; things are happening all around us, and we are still vulnerable. So be smart, and stay safe.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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