In 2019, I was followed by a stranger into my job's parking lot. After switching jobs in 2020, I was followed again, this time, I was nearly abducted right outside my place of work.
These two incidents have left me scared of parking garages, parking lots and walking alone in cities at night.
I wanted it to be different at school. I wanted to be sure I could park in a safe place at ASU.
But finding parking on campus that is both safe and affordable just doesn't seem feasible. On the Downtown Phoenix and Tempe campuses, finding parking which meet these criteria is very challenging.
ASU needs to invest in safe and accessible parking options for students on each and every campus.
A 2015 study by the Department of Justice's National Criminal Justice Reference Service noted 27% of reported aggravated assaults against women happened in commercial areas, public places and parking lots.
It's safe to say female students have legitimate concerns about parking in safe places.
This semester at ASU, my options were to pay $780 for garage parking and I'd walk 20 minutes to class, or buy I could a $280 parking pass in the infamous Lot 59. Plenty of students choose Lot 59 because it's affordable, but then have to endure a long walks to and from class.
Many women in particular are uncomfortable making the trek that inevitable comes with Lot 59, especially in the dark, due to the risk of being assaulted — or worse.
Parking garages offer lighting and blue light emergency call boxes on every level and in multiple locations, resources which can help any student if an incident does occur. Yet, these garages do not always offer the protection students would expect for the price they pay.
"I think the parking is insane," said Lauren Tennison, a graduate student studying geographic information systems. She didn't want to pay for garage parking so she chose Lot 59, soon parking in a different area of the lot in an effort to feel safer.
"I spend about 40 minutes walking, which is ridiculous," she said about her walk to and from class every day.
There are some campus services to help students who feel unsafe. From 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day, students can request on-campus safety escorts. The emergency call boxes are also located in various places across all campuses.
But those resources don't always help everyone feel safe. Mace and other self-defense tools are commonly carried by women on campus every day.
Tennison herself bought mace just to feel safe on the walk to and from her car.
Olivia Gray and Ainaz Bayati are freshmen biological sciences students who also carry mace. "I definitely always clutch my pepper spray, especially at night," Bayati said about walking to her car.
Both agreed football nights are extra scary.
They said they have to get through groups of people before they can reach the safety of their cars. They urge other young women on campus to carry mace and for ASU to "add cameras and more security" to parking garages and parking lots.
For students who do need to walk on campus at night or long distances to their parking spot, ASU allows the carry of certain self-defense tools.
I recommend owning a whistle, laser, personal alarm, glass breaker, mace and seatbelt slicer. It's also wise to share your phone's location with at least two people you trust at all times.
Students shouldn't have to rely on purchasing mace or self defense tools to feel safe. ASU should work to ensure all parking spaces have the same safety resources so all students can feel safe parking on campus, no matter where they park or how much they pay.
If you or someone you know is in danger, speak up. Contact 911 or ASU police at (480) 965-3456 for non-emergencies.
Editor's note: The opinions presented in this column are the author's and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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