It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Colgate Student

As Colgate students, we have a tendency to think we have been divined protection from harm. We’re the Bubble Boy, but without the immune system problems. We leave our doors unlocked when we leave our dorms. Our textbooks and laptops lie untended in the library for hours at a time. We walk straight across that five corner intersection, without really checking in any direction beforehand. We sled down the hill next to Frank on lunch trays, on our favorite combination of slick-ice-over-snow, assuming that Curtis will graciously back up a few feet if we slide too far. We wear shorts if the temperature reaches 40 degrees. We walk through town and campus alone late at night and early in the morning.

This mindset isn’t even about “the Colgate bubble” of forgetting about the world outside of campus so much as it is about being college students and thus thinking we are invincible, in combination with living in a rural community and so lacking the obvious reminder of danger that comes from city crime. It always shocks me to hear about crimes on campus. Even petty thefts reported in the Campus Safety Blotter seem so unlikely.

And then an actual mugging takes place outside of our library. Real danger visits Colgate. Somehow the thought, “that could have been me that had my wallet forcibly taken from me” is a lot scarier than, “that could have been me whose wallet was taken from the COOP TV room.” And I think most Colgate students have had a night where they left the library at 2 a.m. and probably then had to walk home alone. I know that, personally, every time I walk along the path next to Dana that leads to the HRC – a path I’ve long considered “The World’s Longest Creepy Alley Way” — after dark, I fleetingly think that it’s a rather dark, deserted place to be alone at night. But then I shake off this thought as being ridiculous.

Yet someone unaffiliated with Colgate sat around in the COOP all day Sunday, watching students and I can only assume waiting for an opportunity. After the first mugging, this stranger spent some time in the library before round two.

There are no invisible force fields keeping intruders from driving through our un-gated campus, walking into our often unlocked dorms or entering any of the other buildings on campus that require no form of identification. And honestly, it would almost always be overkill if we were to gate the entrance, lock our dorms and swipe our ‘Gatecards.

I think we pride ourselves on providing an environment that feels safe, where we could probably walk across that downtown intersection blindfolded and come out of it without a scratch. But it’s important to remember that nothing extraordinary is protecting us from danger. Willow Path is a long dark path that anyone can walk down. Some of the streetlights on Broad Street have the charming tendency to turn off as you walk by them.

Things happen, and bad people exist. Even at Colgate. I don’t know if there is much Campus Safety or the administration can do to make Colgate safer. But I think every individual can do his best to keep himself safe, just by taking every opportunity to do things the smarter way. We can still assume we’re invincible. Let’s just avoid testing the theory.