Safety on campus: Is UK doing enough?


A UK student walks past a blue light tower outside White Hall Classrooms Building on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Sophia Shoemaker

After witnessing several crime reports in the fall semester, some UK students have started questioning their safety on campus.

Reports of these incidents leave students like junior Ash Pechan wondering if UK is doing enough to prevent them.

“When I lived in a dorm, I saw those warnings [sexual assault bulletins] all the time, but they never did anything about it,” Pechan said. “I never saw them take any action.”

On Nov. 2, the UK police department issued two crime bulletins. Both incidents occurred on UK’s campus in residence halls. One was described as sexual abuse and the other as strangulation.

UK offers multiple services and resources to its students, such as the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center, located in the Gatton Student Center. Students can make appointments to learn about consent culture, connect to other resources and have a safe space to share their experiences.

“We lead, support and sustain a culture of accountability to eliminate violence and oppression at UK,” the VIP Center says on their website. “We create safe spaces for people to be heard, while also speaking for those who have been silenced.”

The attitudes of students reflect the need for violence prevention and an increased focus on safety. Many female students never walk by themselves at night, instead calling someone to pick them up.

To combat this fear and make student transportation easier, UK created Wildcab, a rideshare service that is free for all students. It runs from Thursday to Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Students can request a ride through the app.

Although UK offers these safety measures and safe spaces, sophomore Jozie Stiles worries that people on campus don’t know anything about them.

“My freshman year, nobody told me about the safety features on campus like Wildcab. That was information that I found on my own,” Stiles said. “Even now, when my friends and I go out, we never walk anywhere by ourselves, and [we] Uber if we are going further from home.”

Freshman Tess Wampler feels generally safe in her residence hall but is concerned about how frequently sexual assault happens at UK. She believes that it sexual assault is one of the biggest threats to student safety, especially because of how the university “doesn’t do much” to prevent it.

“I remember the modules I had to do before I got here, and the alcohol education one was really long, but they skimmed over the sexual assault prevention,” Wampler said. “Most questions were asking if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, rather than actually addressing the problem.”