Ruth’s Lesson: colleges must protect their students

Karla Villegas Pineda, Opinion Editor

19-year-old Ruth George was walking to her car in a parking garage on UIC’s east campus when she was followed by a 26-year-old man. The man catcalled George from afar and when she ignored him, he came up to her from behind, dragged her into her family car, strangled her to death and sexually assaulted her. It’s impossible to eliminate all crimes like this, but there are many actions we can take to prevent them. 

George was a 2018 graduate of Naperville Central and an honors student at UIC. The man, who admitted to the crime, is being held without bail and is charged with first-degree murder and sexual assault.  

Colleges across the country should maximize their security and ensure that all students feel safe and actually are safe on campuses. 

At COD, the security features students have access to are not well advertised. COD’s primary security app, COD Guardian, offers emergency call buttons, virtual car escorts and a direct line to COD’s campus security. The app is created by Rave Safety, who has worked with other universities and colleges to create safety apps.  

Safety features on campus are only as effective as they are utilized by students. For students to be able to use those features, they have to know about them. Schools need to make sure all students know the resources available to them if they truly want to help keep students safe.  

Often, the walk from buildings to parked cars is daunting, especially for women after the sun sets. With COD’s campus being open to virtually anyone, it’s not uncommon to be approached by suspicious people during class hours. While COD seems significantly safer than a city campus like UIC, the feeling of insecurity is still present.

George did what most women would do in her situation. She ignored someone who made her uncomfortable, ducked her head and kept her car keys at the ready. These are all things women instinctively do when they are threatened.

It is not the responsibility of a woman to submit to harassment to be “safe.” That is not safe. George did not owe anything to the man who harassed her.

The violence George experienced is not her fault; it is the result of a security system that failed her when she needed help. 

You can download COD’s safety app for Android or iOS by searching “Rave Guardian” in the App Store.

The Courier offers their condolences to Ruth George’s loved ones. May she rest in power.