Having spent my last three years as a student here at Elon, I was sure for the longest time that nothing more about college living could faze me. Granted, the initial transition from living at home to a more independent lifestyle was difficult, but after so much time, I figured I was already well-accustomed to the various eccentricities of living in close quarters with hundreds of college students.
So you can imagine my surprise when, at half past 1 a.m. last Wednesday, an unknown male student sprinted into my Global dorm room.
Realizing that he had mistakenly entered the wrong room, he quickly left while I was still trying to process the situation. While I’m sure this incident was little more than a simple error in judgment, it has made me more attentive to the way that we as members of a community interact with each other.
I don’t necessarily consider myself scarred for life, but I would say that I was justifiably unsettled by such a blatant and needless intrusion of personal space. Furthermore, I’d wager that I’m not the only one who has undergone this type of ordeal — many other students likely have their own horror stories of living at Elon, perhaps even worse than mine.
Of course, the logical solution to prevent unwelcome access to one’s living space would be to lock the door at night, something I’ve admittedly never done during my time at Elon. What does it say about our community when I feel compelled to lock my personal door in order to feel safe at night? The fact that access to on-campus living areas is restricted to those with Phoenix cards during nighttime hours should, at least in theory, be enough to consider ourselves safe from any external threats that may exist in the community.
Do we really need to suspect our fellow students so much that we need to lock our doors to be safe? If my late-night encounter is any indication, the answer for some might just be, “Yes.”
In a community as small and intimate as Elon, we sometimes assume too much of our personal safety, even believing ourselves to be practically impervious to unexpected harm. While I would personally say that I’ve never felt endangered while at Elon, I still think safety is definitely worth considering, deserving informed decisions in how you wish to live in this community.
I believe scenarios like my late-night guest should encourage us to more carefully reflect on how we live together. In order to achieve an acceptable level of safety on this campus, we need to be able to respect each other’s living areas. We need to be willing to identify when our own actions impede on those around us, and be willing to modify our behavior in order to lessen said impediments.
Perhaps last week’s episode was the worst it will ever be for me at Elon, or perhaps it’s merely the precursor for more unexpected surprises — I have no way of knowing, but I at least consider myself more prepared. Nevertheless, I still have faith that we can build a safer and more conscientious community, one in which locked doors become an option rather than a standard.