Working on the night desk of my school’s newspaper for the last three years, I’ve gotten used to walking home alone between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. It used to be the most peaceful part of my day. It was my time to unwind from the five hours I just spent glued to a computer screen.
I’d slow down and close my eyes and just breathe in the beauty of my favorite place on earth. I’d stop and stare at the gorgeous library straight-on — something I’d never do in the daylight for fear of looking like a weirdo.
But I don’t do that anymore.
Sexual assault has been an issue permeating my university in recent months, and now, every person I pass across our tiny campus is a rapist.
Tonight was a beautiful night, the air heavy with the coming storm. I wanted to slow down and smell the spring time.
Instead, I walked as fast as my legs would let me, feet sticking to the insides of my shoes. I zigzagged out of my way to avoid passing groups of people. I flinched and looked over my shoulder every few steps. I constantly evaluated my surroundings for my six-minute walk.
A sigh of relief is what greets the door of my residence hall every night I make it there safely.
It wasn’t like this four years ago.