‘I feel unsafe as a CofC student’

The College of Charleston, voted America’s Most Beautiful Campus, is my dream school.

Students lie out on the beach and walk to class through the nation’s No. 1 city.

Once the sun sets, however, I clutch my pepper-spray and speed-walk to my off-campus, downtown apartment to avoid the catcalls in the cloak of darkness.

The city and The College can do a lot more to prevent this fear.

And the first solution is a simple one.

More downtown streets need lamps

It’s a fact that everything is less scary in the dark.

While King Street is well-lit, lights on surrounding streets are few and far between, making it easy for predators to sneak up on unsuspecting students.

Lights strategically placed throughout downtown would go a long way in helping pedestrians notice an attacker in time to help themselves.

And that leads to a second obvious suggestion.

Self-defense classes for college students

CofC should include self-defense in its required first-year-student course. Currently it only requires a bystander intervention course.

Bystander intervention is labeled a “primary” form of prevention for crimes committed on college campuses.

A “primary” form of prevention should not be relying on someone else to step in.

It should be learning to protect yourself.

Charleston police have the wrong priorities

Their priorities do not seem to include “to protect and serve.”

Nearly every underage drinker walking down King Street gets put in the back of a police car, and meanwhile, women are being assaulted frequently on other downtown streets by violent criminals.

There should be fewer officers patrolling the bars on King Street and more on the lookout for potential assaults on Pitt, Vanderhorst and surrounding streets.

The surrounding streets are the streets where I and several of my fellow female friends are afraid to walk. 

Students at CofC did not think “assault” would be on their list of experiences when coming to college here.

Get it together, Charleston. I love you, but you scare me.


by Sidney Harper



  1. CofC Student says:

    I’m sorry, but I disagree with you in many areas. First, the college does offer many opportunities. Throughout the year public safety offers self defense courses specifically aimed at women. If you feel unsafe, you should be taking the initiative. Bystander intervention for everyone is great. It makes everyone aware and gives people resources. If you feel the need to protect yourself, go and find the opportunities. Not everything needs to be handed to you.

    Next, what do you think leads to many of these assaults? Unsafe alcohol usage. Not every assault is linked to alcohol, but much of the time it is. Similarly to bystander intervention, keeping drunken underage students (among others) off the streets is a preventative measure. We shouldn’t have to put a cop of every dark street corner to help stop assaults. Let’s get to the root of the problem: the unsafe culture we have on campus especially surrounding drinking.

    I do agree with you thought that we need more lighting. But past that, I think we need to start taking some ownership for not doing anything about these problems on our own. We know there is an issue, now let’s try to fix it instead of blaming others. Let’s stop encouraging this culture on our campus instead of asking others to stop it.

    • A female says:

      If you’re saying drinking is a primary root of the problem, why not say that girls dressing in revealing clothing is part of the problem? Why not say that having girls on and around campus is the root of the problem? I agree there can’t be cops on every corner but I also am sick of soberly walking home from the library to my house on Pitt street with my pepper spray in one hand and gripping my keys in the other like Wolverine. I have a background in Urban Studies and know how complex of an issue is, better than many others. Hopefully Sidney’s post will lead to a dialogue about this and some real change.

      • Cofc student says:

        Drinking DOES lead to unsafe behaviors. Proven. No where in my reply did I even imply that anyone is EVER asking for it. I don’t think Sidney is wrong in that the culture needs to change, I just think she is incorrectly attributing blame.

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