Safety on UK campus


A group of UK students walks in front of White Hall Classroom Building on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Sophia Shoemaker

Multiple reports of violence have occurred on UK’s campus in recent weeks, leading to increased caution and awareness by students.

On Nov. 2, the UK police department issued two crime bulletins. Both incidents occurred in campus residence halls. One was described as sexual abuse and the other was an incident of strangulation, and both instances took place on Oct. 31. The suspects were known by the victims.

The 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 [UK] never did anything about it. I never saw them take any action,” Pechan said.

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

The VIP Center’s website states that they “lead, support, and sustain a culture of accountability to eliminate violence and oppression at UK” and “create safe spaces for people to be heard, while also speaking for those who have been silenced.”

UK has also hosted events aimed at raising awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence. During the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Week of Action, which lasted from Oct. 18 to Oct. 24, UK showed its support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assualt by taking part in the nationwide Clothesline Project. The purpose of this project is to educate, raise awareness and to help in the healing process of victims. At UK, t-shirts were hung in the Gatton Student Center featuring phrases like “me too” and “bruised but not broken.”

Despite this awareness, many students still do not feel safe on and around campus. Some female students do not walk by themselves at night, or they always call someone to pick them up.

Another resource UK offers is Wildcab, a rideshare service that is free to all students. It runs from Thursday to Saturday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. All students have to do to utilize the service is download the app and request a ride.

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 said she generally feels safe in her residence hall, but she is concerned about how frequently sexual assault happens at the university.

“I think something that UK could do better at is sexual assault prevention, as that seems to be the biggest problem when it comes to student’s safety currently. 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.”