New Orleans has the reputation of being a dangerous city to outsiders, but as I’ve experienced during my time here as a student, New Orleans is just like any other city in that common sense and a little bit of street smarts will keep you safe. I have never felt unsafe on campus and make sure not to put myself in situations where I feel unsafe off-campus. I especially feel comfortable in the Residential Halls since the Loyola University Police Department is literally in the middle of the quad. In my 3 years at Loyola so far, I can honestly say that taking advantage of the information and resources available around campus has made me feel like I can be safe in any environment.
My freshman year I took a free Rape Aggression Defense System (RADS) class offered to all female students through the Loyola University Police Department because, like many people, I was nervous about the type of reputation the city of New Orleans had in terms of safety even though Loyola is in a very beautiful neighborhood surrounded by mansions and parks. I have since realized that as long as I stay in the right places, that fear is unnecessary.
Before I was allowed to take the RADS class, the two other women in the class and I were required to read a safety information packet and answer questions for discussion before the physical learning part. We covered topics such as how to react if someone tries to kidnap you or steal from you and steps to take to prevent those kinds of encounters that may require physical defense. The steps to safety were simple such as not walking off campus alone (especially at night), being aware of your surroundings in places such as parking lots, and knowing local emergency numbers for the quickest response.
The class I went to lasted about 3 hours, and we learned a variety of techniques anywhere from finding sensitive areas on the attacker to complex kicks and punches. The police officer instructing the class did not sugar coat any part of the lesson. When I would laugh she would attack me off guard and tell me the attacker won’t stop for laughs. We practiced multiple situations and she would make it as difficult as possible for me to escape so as to give me practice with a more realistic situation.
After the completion of the class I felt more confident that I could protect myself in any city and knew how to avoid dangerous situations. It is important that all students educate themselves on safety when they move to a new environment, not just New Orleans, because it is usually their first time being on their own. Education = prevention.