I am not a victim of sexual assault.
I have never lived through the pain, agony and haunting memory of rape, and therefore am unable to sympathize with those who have.
Yet, as a woman and a journalist, it is my job to inform students in the community of news that may affect them.
That is why, when I first learned of a female student who was allegedly attacked by a man wearing a ski mask and armed with a gun, my first reaction was to put my thoughts into words.
College women understand the danger of rape. It is a four-letter word that is best left unsaid.
Too often, the victim is the one who shoulders the guilt of such an attack. They are the ones who are left remembering the details while others shake their heads and mutter words under their breath like, "She asked for it,'"and "What did she expect?"
But, when a woman who is walking in a well-lit area late at night (a freedom of which she is fully entitled to) is grabbed by an armed man and nearly assaulted, that four-letter word suddenly begins to feel a bit closer to home.
Hearing about such an alleged assault leaves us in disbelief that something like this could happen at Ball State, but I am certain students at Ohio State University are feeling much the same way.
Since this summer, OSU has seen a number of its female students raped by a perpetrator who has entered victims' homes through unlocked doors and windows.
The women on the campus of OSU are no different than the women at BSU, which means the victims in Ohio could just as easily be victims here.
The number of times I have had to walk to my car or walk home after another late night in the newsroom are too many to count, and I know there are a number of women on the campus who have found themselves in similar situations.
So, what can be done to protect women on campus from another attack?
For starters, we all know we should leave a place with another person. If that isn't possible, carry a cell phone with you. Get on the line and have a loved one "talk you home."
Don't be afraid to call the escort service. The number is 285-5005 and the service is available from 6 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.
Lock your doors and bolt your windows.
And, if you should find yourself in an incident where you are being attacked, fight back, scream, do anything you can to attract the attention of someone who may be nearby.
In addition, campus services could take steps to further protect students. Most areas are well-lit on campus, but perhaps more could be better monitored with emergency phones.
Campus police at OSU have begun to carry swab kits with them, which include gloves and test tubes that can be used to search for DNA at a crime scene. If UPD officers at Ball State are not currently equipped with such devices, maybe it's time they should be.
And, on a closing note, maybe it's time for Parking Services to take a closer look at the areas on campus where students may be found working late at night and create special permits for those who do.
Today's incident was a frightening wake-up call. It's time for students to know things like this can and do happen here at Ball State.
Please, please protect yourself -- I'd hate to be writing about you next...2*-¦Koch-Column 9.26DNEditorial..2SORT+â-ì+â-ä2AUDT