After three violent attacks within blocks of the MUSC campus in the last month, the Department of Public Safety wants to highlight what is being done to prevent similar attacks from happening at MUSC.
One important service is the Safety Escort Program that was created to ensure a safe environment, especially for those working night or early morning shifts.
The closest attack was within two blocks of campus on Vanderhorst Street, where a 23-year-old woman was punched and then dragged to a parking lot where she was sexually assaulted. Major Kevin Kerley, patrol commander, strongly encourages people to take advantage of the Safety Escort Program. The service is completely free and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2010, there were 2,517 safety escorts. There also are 163 active call boxes that anyone can use to get help around campus.
Another program offered is the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) class. Students, faculty, staff and volunteers are eligible to participate in the free class. However, the class does fill up quickly and can only hold 20 participants. The class, for women only, has four sessions that are each about three hours long. The focus is to teach awareness, prevention, risk reductions, risk avoidance and hands-on defense.
A student of the class who wished to remain anonymous said taking the course was one of the best things she could have done. "I am confident in speaking for all of us participants when I say that RAD was a very empowering and eye-opening experience providing us with very practical knowledge and skills necessary for minimizing personal risk. Our instructors made the experience comfortable, accessible—even fun—without down playing the seriousness of the topic."
Some of the students were particularly apprehensive about the hands-on training, especially the live simulation at the end, but she found those aspects of the course to be the most beneficial, she said.
"I can't wait for a follow-up course. I would recommend it for anyone. It's surprising the many small ways in which we all can decrease our vulnerability of being attacked each day."
Kerley and Lt. Fred Wanner said there are a things you can do to avoid getting in dangerous situations.
Try to always walk in groups especially at night
Walk on the lighted side of the street
Look around and do not text so that you are aware of your surroundings
If you are on the phone, give them an idea of where you are coming from and where you are going
Take advantage of services such as the Safety Escort Program to prevent the possibility of being assaulted
To receive an escort, call 792-2261 and provide your name, current location, baggage (if any), destination, and physical description of yourself. For information on the service, visit http://www.musc.edu/publicsafety/escort.shtml.
For information on RAD, go to http://www.musc.edu/publicsafety/rad.shtml.
Protect yourself from theft, secure vehicles
Recently there has been an increase in the number of thefts from vehicles in the downtown Charleston area. MUSC has experienced two on-campus incidents during the week of March 28. Take the time to secure personal property out of sight, including any mounting hardware for GPS and electronic equipment, if possible. Make sure the windows are closed and the vehicle is locked.
Report any suspicious individuals you see in the area immediately to MUSC Public Safety at 792-4196. Provide the dispatch with a description of the individual(s) to include clothing, what you observed them doing, the location where you saw them and the direction they were going.