By JESSIE WHITMER
Is heading from UMW to downtown Fredericksburg making students feel uncomfortable?
Some students love heading downtown and will make the walk every day, but some students have concerns that need to be discussed. Is downtown a safe place for UMW students?
“I feel completely comfortable going to downtown,” said sophomore Abby Cassell. “I usually walk there since it’s so close. The only time I feel unsafe is late at night, but as long as I am aware of my surroundings and don’t make silly mistakes/choices, I am fine. It is a small town and if someone were to notice that I was in trouble, I feel as if people would help.”
Cassell said that the only time that she felt unsafe was at nighttime – do others feel more uncomfortable at night time? Does one have to consciously make sure that bad choices are not made in order to be safe in Downtown?
Junior, Kelsey Phillips, responded in a completely different manner. “I agree with other students in that I do not always feel comfortable walking downtown, said Phillips. ”Especially as a young woman in today’s society, I feel like I have to constantly look over my shoulder if I am walking alone. Once, I was meeting with some friends for dinner after dark and had to park a few streets over from the restaurant. I called my dad and talked to him on the phone until I got to the restaurant and then to my car safely. I did this because I have experienced men catcalling at me multiple times in downtown Fredericksburg and even following me to continue the harassment.”
Similarly, junior Kelly O’Grady responded that her main fear of going downtown is being alone
“I personally do not feel unsafe,” said O’Grady, “but I do feel much more comfortable going downtown with another person or group of people. I feel like having a car and being able to drive downtown instead of walking also reduces a lot of stress about safety because I personally do not have to walk on some of the secluded streets. I also would not feel comfortable going downton during the later times of the evening because I would not be as aware of my surroundings. Seeing emails from the school about recent events, like harassment, do make me fear going online, but luckily I have never experienced anything that made me fear for my safety when going downtown.”
Sophomore Reina Irby further emphasized the notion of downtown being unsafe during the night. She said, “Downtown is very safe during the day, but being down there alone at night is not something I would ever want to do. A good majority of downtown is bars and as a girl being around drunk strangers sounds like a bad mix. However, as long as I was in a group, I do not think I would feel unsafe. I have been alone at night Downtown before and it gave me a panic attack because all of the people in the dark alleys. Safety in numbers I think would be the best policy when navigating downtown.”
It appears that students feel safe during the day, but night time is a different story. Since Fredericksburg is a college town, students should be able to enjoy the shops and the atmosphere without feeling scared. Taking precautionary measures like going with a group or using the RAVE Guardian app can help.