Harrisonburg is no longer the safe college community that we know and love. Instead, it's turned from the "Friendly City" to the city living in fear. Specifically, the college populations of Harrisonburg are feeling it the most. Just in the past couple months, several women in specific have reported cases of severe discomfort in their own community. Why should living off campus come with the consequences of intruders, harassers and overall stranger danger?
Several individuals reported just this past month of hearing loud banging noises on the front doors, as possibly the signs of possible intruders wandering door to door in the Charleston Homes off-campus living complex throughout the day and night. Likewise a female individual reported a suspicious vehicle following her from Staples, pretending to be an employee from campus cookies. The individual was shopping for school supplies in Staples and found a note on her car when she returned to the parking lot, as well as a group of men looking at her from a short distance. Later that night her roommates received a knock on the door and were surprised to see a man with a fake campus cookies box, claiming someone had sent them some. The man could not even say a name for whom the cookies were sent to, leading the roommates to believe that it was some sort of scam or fake incident.
Events such as these are why many female students order Tasers to keep their minds at ease.
Harrisonburg has become a hub for fake Uber drivers, stalkers and just downright sketchy encounters. Endless students have reported Ubers driving up to them and claiming that they have "arrived for them" when they, in fact, did not even order an Uber at all. There have also been cases of Ubers in Boston spiking their complimentary water bottles and giving them to drunk college girls to knock them out and send them into sex trafficking.
Any advice for anyone feeling threatened, don't walk alone at night and use the buddy system. It's not a bad idea to carry pepper spray or a Taser. Always have your phone on you and have it accessible when walking around. Don't talk to strangers or take an Uber alone. Share your location with close friends and or family members that way people you trust will be able to know where you are at all times. When you do Uber or Lyft, don't share too much personal information, because you never know how legit the driver will be. Also when you are Ubering or Lyfting, make sure the vehicle has a Lyft and or Uber sticker, so it is legitimate.
The real problem here is that nothing has been done about this phenomena at all, all JMU does is email the faculty and staff informing us of the situations that occur. This leaves us feeling far more uneasy than before. Steps need to be taken to prevent future problems such as these from happening, whether that calls for off-campus housing to hire security or more police involvement/investigations. Whatever the case, something needs to be done.