Battling Chicago’s street creeps

By SpencerRoush

Being a blonde 20-something certainly has its perks, but it’s been more bothersome than rewarding lately.

Sometimes I think there must be a target taped to my back telling predators I’m ripe for the picking. Creeps probably see me and smile knowing even if I did remember to bring a can of pepper spray, I would have to ask them to “hold on” while I search for it in my oversized black hole of a purse. As for physically defending myself, I look less than threatening.

I know I’m not alone in this mentality and experiences because other students have similar stories about being grabbed on the street by predators taking full advantage of a situation.

However, Columbia’s sexual offense statistics don’t actually correspond to what’s happening in and around campus. My encounters alone account for more sexual offenses than what was reported in 2009—but I left them unreported. Other victims probably did the same.

According to 2010 Annual Crime Statistics & Fire Safety Report, there were a mere four forcible-sexual offense incidents reported from Jan. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2009, which include rape, forced sodomy, unwanted penetration using an object and fondling.

Three of these were reported on public property while one occurred at a student residence center.

Failing to notify authorities is not a new trend. In 2007, there were zero forcible-sexual offenses reported and only three in 2008, according to the report.

There are various reasons why these crimes go under-reported: Recounting the incident means experiencing yet more humiliation; Reporting seems pointless because the police tracking down the suspect is highly unlikely or reporting it takes too much time with little outcomes.

Considering these factors, it’s no surprise Columbia has a small number of documented sexual offense cases each year. This is not the college’s fault; it’s more of society’s desensitized reactions to such crimes and the realization that apprehending offenders is unlikely.

Even though reported sexual offenses are shockingly low and misleading, these crimes do happen regularly even if they are not officially documented.

This leaves defending ourselves against predators entirely up to the individual and taking safety into our own hands. Counting on security officers—who are zipping around campus on Segways—to protect the student body from South Loop creepers is similar to counting on a roommate for an early morning wake-up call when you should be setting your own alarm.

Relying on the police and campus security is only asking for trouble. These outlets are only available after-the-fact, anyway. Instead, take some self defense classes or search the Internet for ways to effectively stun an attacker and practice the moves on a friend (without injuring them of course … unless he or she deserves it).