Safety in numbers — Campus Safety week provides education and community for Vandals

The University of Idaho is a fairly small and close-knit community. It often seems that the town’s relatively quiet demeanor insinuates nothing bad ever happens.

That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Just as so many great things happen on campus daily, there are inevitably unsafe events that go unseen and environments that don’t entirely promote safety.

When a large group of young adults growing and learning how to be themselves is placed into one campus, not everything is going to be completely safe.

There are bad relationships. There are weeks too stressful to cope with. There are parties that get just a little too crazy. This is all bound to happen, but there are ways to learn about preventing the negative outcomes that sometimes occur.

This is why UI’s annual promotion of Safety Week began Monday, marking the week’s sixth year on campus.

This year’s theme, the “I Got Your Back” campaign, promotes the importance of helping other Vandals. Physical safety and mental health are two of the event’s key components.

UI students will have the opportunity to engage in events like Take Back the Night, a rally that promotes violence awareness, and the We Got Your Back 5K, a run or walk that encourages  suicide awareness. The 5K takes place 6 p.m. Tuesday and the rally will begin Thursday 7:30 p.m.

Campus Safety Week originated after the first anniversary of Katy Benoit’s death. Benoit was shot and killed by a UI professor after their personal relationship became dangerous in 2011. Her life is memorialized on an Administration Lawn bench all year and her story is remembered during the Take Back the Night rally through the Katy Benoit Safety Forum.

Students and community members can also take part in the LGBTQA Brown Bag Series: “Bias, Title IX & the Current Climate,” suicide prevention training and other various activities and seminars throughout the week.

The “I Got Your Back” theme should resonate with students this year. In a quickly changing and often precarious political and social climate, there are so many stressors placed on people, especially college students.

As UI students, we have the ability to join together in a welcoming community and help fellow Vandals to stay safe and secure. Campus Safety week is the time to learn about ways to help and give those struggling with their well-being a chance to seek help.

Though the week is a great introductory course for students easing into the new school year, it is important to remember that there are opportunities to learn about health and safety throughout the entire year. Many spots on campus such as the Women’s Center, the LGBTQA Office, the Student Health Center, the Counseling and Testing Center and the many faculty safe zones all provide important safety and health resources for students.

Campus Safety week may just be another week for Moscow’s quiet community, but it can become so much more with participation and a willingness to learn about the things that all too often go unnoticed.

— HS


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