Safety is important at the University of Idaho, which is why the university set aside an entire week specifically focused on raising awareness toward it.
Emilie McLarnan, UI’s Violence Prevention Programs coordinator, said she is excited to be a part of her second “I Got Your Back” Campus Safety Week. She said her goal for the week is to help spread the importance of watching out for fellow students.
“It’s all about that ideology of Vandals taking care of Vandals,” McLarnan said. “We should all be there for each other and try to create that culture of safety — where this idea of ‘I got your back’ is just ingrained in us.”
McLarnan said events such as the “We Got Your Back” Suicide Awareness 5K and others throughout the week, are ways for students to gain the insight necessary to support people in difficult situations.
“These kinds of events really help us become more aware of how to help people, especially if a person is experiencing suicidal ideations,” McLarnan said. “Also, paying attention to some particular safety needs for different populations on campus. It’s important for people to know what to do and what their resources are in the event of a serious situation.”
McLarnan said she is looking forward to events throughout the week such as the Green Dot Overview, Katy Benoit Safety Forum and the Take Back the Night rally and candlelit march.
“These events have become Vandal tradition and an institution at UI,” McLarnan said.
Due to the large turn-out last year and a lack of space, McLarnan said Take Back the Night has moved to the Administration Building auditorium.
She said Take Back the Night is meant to exemplify that no one, especially female students, should feel unsafe.
“People say women shouldn’t go out at night because they may get assaulted,” McLarnan said. “That isn’t necessarily always the case, but there is that dynamic most of the time. Let’s feel safe at night again — let’s feel safe wherever we go.“
McLarnan said the aspect of feeling secure in one’s environment and raising awareness is the sole purpose of the safety week.
Other events on campus include a presentation on “Bias, Title IX and the Current Climate,” by Erin Agidius, director of UI’s Office of Civil Rights and Investigations on Tuesday, and a late-night dodgeball tournament on Friday.
Elizabeth Short, a senior at UI, said she admires the safety goals UI strives to achieve by dedicating a week to raise awareness.
“I think (safety week) is something that every university should try to emulate in some way or another,” Short said. “The fact that some students feel unsafe in any capacity, at night or otherwise, cannot be how things always are.”
Short said her favorite thing about “I Got Your Back” Safety Week is the bond people feel while acting as a unit, especially when that unit is devoted to the well-being of other Vandals.
“I attended ‘Take Back the Night’ last year, and there was such a great turn out,” Short said. “The fact is we’re all here, together. The Safety Week really gives you a feeling of togetherness in a common effort.”
Andrew Ward can be reached at arg-news@uidaho,edu or on Twitter @WardOfTheWorlds