After a long week of classes, my friends and I just want to go out, see some friends, and have fun. A time to catch up and de-stress. We have fears sometimes about going out. Whether people will become too intoxicated around us, fights in bars, people making us uncomfortable... it is always in the back of our mind.
There is always the uncertainty of what is going to happen that night. We just know we want to have a good one.
Columbia, South Carolina, like any big city, has parts that are better and worse than others. With a huge state school right in the middle of the city, the diversity is vast amongst age and gender. On any day, there is a mix of college students with locals that are out and about in the city.
I love my university and the home it has become. I miss it more than ever now that I am abroad for a semester.
I am 4,565 miles away from Columbia, South Carolina. From more than four thousand miles away I can feel the pain, the love, the support, and the sense of community at my second home, the University of South Carolina, after a tragic event occurred involving the kidnapping and murder of a fellow Gamecock.
Too many nights I can recount myself or one of my friends taking a rideshare home alone. I thought nothing of it. Too many nights my friends and I were in the same area, standing on the same corner, coming out of the same bar unaware of the endless possibilities of events that could have occurred.
Unfortunately, it took the passing of a young girl to open my eyes to one of the many dangers around the world we have to face.
The time of me letting my friends' rideshare home alone is over. The time of "I'm fine, so it's fine that I go home" is over. Anyone can be nearly 100% OK, yet this can still happen.
Social media over the past few days has blown up with this story. On a national level, attention has been brought to this situation so that something like this never occurs again. We do not blame her friends for her going home alone. We do not blame her for choosing to leave alone. I know far too many people that have left that bar alone, and as someone said on Twitter, "by this logic, I deserve to be dead too."
As a female student at the University of South Carolina, I am scared. I am scared for my safety and my friends' safety. This could happen in any other city too. Columbia, SC, is not the only big college city in the world. We need to look out for ourselves and others.
I have talked to my mom every day since the incident regarding updates. She told me, "Don't obsess. it is horrible but continue to be safe and look out for your friends." My parents are devastated for this family.
We need not to be scared but more aware than we ever have been before. I wish it did not take a horrific incident like this to truly open my eyes to the evil in the world.
To the family and friends of Samantha Josephson, you will forever be in my thoughts.
To the sisters of the Alpha Gamma Delta chapter at USC, I am sending you all of the Panhellenic love possible during this time.
I pledge to make sure my friends and I are the safest we can be when out at night.
I pledge to always ask "WHAT IS MY NAME" to any rideshare we order.
I pledge to help never let this happen again.
I pledge, Samantha, to never let anyone forget your story.
I pledge to never let anyone forget your name.