The University of Maine student newspaper since 1875
Sunday, April 19, 11:08 p.m.

Creating a safer campus

As college students, we are at a pivotal stage in our lives for establishing relationships and emotional ties with friends and significant others. But the process is hardly free of conflict and stress, falsifying the claim that it’s all “fun and games.” Sometimes seemingly desirable circumstances take an unseen turn. And sometimes, seemingly trivial conditions escalate into problematic situations we cannot, and should not, handle on our own.

The majority of us have seen enough made-for-TV movies to be aware of an existing threat of sexual harassment and stalking, especially on college campuses. Residing in an area like Orono that seems to be reclusive and safe, does not deter unwanted activity from ever occurring. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but violence and harassment occur in every community, and this school is no exception.

As outlined in any informative brochure on the matter, if you have not been the victim of stalking or harassment (or any kind of uninvited and persistent attention) yourself, then chances are that you know someone personally who has been a victim. I recently found an online poll conducted of 16,000 college women that revealed between 26.6 and 35.2 percent of them had at one time or another been a victim of stalking.

This is one of the reasons why I respect such undertakings as the newly established Safe Campus Project. Located on the second floor of the East Annex, this organization provides services to students regarding such issues as sexual harassment, dating and stalking. It also holds workshops and presentations to inform and educate students about potentially risky situations and which venues to seek if faced with difficult circumstances. The Safe Campus Project also refers students to outside resources, in addition to the university’s Student Legal Affairs and Public Safety.

It’s reassuring to see that there are efforts being made to directly address what so many are afraid to acknowledge. Harassment does happen. Resources like the Safe Campus Project are invaluable, and provide this campus with an accessible means of contending with harassment.

Michelle Reynolds is sophomore journalism major.