By Nate Villano
Whether you’re living in a house in downtown Albany or you’re living on campus, criminal activity may still occur. In recent news two men were arrested for assaulting and robbing a student living on the Indian Quad at The University at Albany at about 6:40 P.M. The student (whose name was not released) had been under the impression his assailants were trying to sell him an electronics item. If you are planning to meet someone you met on Craigslist to purchase anything, it is best to meet in a public and well-populated area.
Being mugged both on campus and downtown is a very serious and a potentially life-threatening scenario. If your assailant is holding you up by knife or gunpoint, it’s best to give up what you have unless there is a way out. Things such as cell phones, credit cards, and pocketbooks are all replaceable. However your life on the other hand, is not.
There are multitudes of ways to protect yourself from assailants in the event you become assaulted. Pepper spray is a very effective tool for temporarily blinding your attacker but, keep in mind, it may only be used for self-defense purposes only. Pepper spray is legal to carry in the state of New York, however you must be over the age of 18 to purchase it.
If pepper spray isn’t enough to make you feel comfortable, try to enroll yourself in a class such as Taekwondo or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). Not only are these classes a good workout but also they teach you how to defend yourself. Taekwondo is a mix of combat, self-defense, sport and exercise. MMA however teaches you striking and grappling techniques whether you’re on your feet or on the ground. Both are very useful in the event you are assaulted.
Make sure you’re always aware of where you are your surroundings and to avoid poorly lit areas. “I don’t wear my headphones when I’m alone so I can be aware of my surroundings,” said Celene Fren, a sophomore at the University at Albany. “When it’s dark, I normally walk in areas that have a lot of lights.” If you can, try to make an effort to travel in groups at night especially in areas downtown. “I like to travel with someone or a group,” said Celene. Traveling in big groups often defers degenerates away.Walking alone at night sometimes is both nerve wracking and frightening. Every small sound can make the mind wander and begin to overthink what’s really going on. Stories about students being held up by a weapon and robbed begin to make the mind race even faster; you begin to formulate worst-case scenarios. Bigger targets for assailants are those wearing nice jewelry in plain sight. If you happen to end up in a situation walking by yourself try to keep anything fancy and flashy out of sight as you will become a walking target. There’s nothing a thief loves more than seeing somebody by himself or herself sporting nice accessories.
However being mugged isn’t the only thing to worry about. On campus and off campus room invasions have happened before and if the right precautions are not taken they will happen to you. Living on campus, make sure you lock your suite door if you don’t already have it set to locking behind you. If you are somebody who constantly leaves the door unlocked and your belongings are stolen the university is not responsible. You should also be aware of who knows that the suite door may be unlocked at times. “Random people won’t know where valuables are, but friends will know exactly where to look,” said Jesse Gillette a junior at the University at Albany.
Having to swipe into the dormitories does make invasions harder but not impossible. If you see somebody waiting in the vestibule unable to swipe in, think twice before you let him or her in. “If they are waiting inside the vestibule ask them to show you their SUNY ID before opening the door,” said Rachel Kukuliev a sophomore and a residential assistant (RA) at the University at Albany. “Don’t prop the doors open either. That’s just asking for trouble and it’s illegal.”
Leaving the door unlocked can result not only in having your belongings swiped, but giving the opportunity for strangers to walk right in as well. On Sunday, Feb. 2nd, 2014, around 12:50 A.M. a female student had awoken to find an unknown male standing in the middle of her room, engaging in an act of public lewdness. An email was sent out by the University Police Department (UPD) reminding students to lock their doors at night.
If you live downtown off-campus your risk for an invasion is a little bit higher not having the security that the on-campus dorms have. If you or your housemates leave during the day and leave an empty house, always remember to lock the door. Unlike the suites on campus, doors to a house do not lock behind you. At night make rounds and make sure all of the doors are locked and windows are secured. If you don’t already have a house downtown but are on the search, be aware of the neighborhood surrounding you. Not all areas of downtown are friendly.
While the library might seem like a safe haven from crime, thievery does occur and it’s usually because somebody left momentarily for a bathroom break. Unless you’re with a group of people you should not leave your things unattended especially being in an isolated part of the library. Once you step away this gives anybody an open opportunity to take your things and make a clean getaway.
If you have to use the restroom it may behoove you to put your belongings in a backpack and take them with you. “I don’t leave my things unattended. If I have to get up I either bring my things with me or have someone I trust watch it, if they happen to be in the library, too,” said David Lynch a sophomore at the University at Albany. Depending on what you have with you it might be a headache, but having them swiped is an even bigger headache and the university will not take responsibility and will be less likely to lend you a helping hand.
In order to make sure you keep yourself and others safe always keep these things in the back of your head. Doing so will prevent problems, high stress levels and headaches. While it might seem like common sense and you might say to yourself, “Who forgets to lock the door to their room/ house?” or “Who leaves their stuff unattended?” it happens and issues such as these are easily avoidable.