by Madeline Morkin ’22
Asst. Opinion Editor
When it comes to safety and security, it is not easy to be a woman. An unfortunate reality for women everywhere, and at any age, is the need to prepare for the worst possible situations when leaving for a night out with friends, taking an Uber alone, or walking home at night. Whether it be developing a special code word with female friends strictly to be used when help is needed, carrying pepper spray on their person, or having certain safety phone numbers pre-dialed and memorized, women and society have gotten too comfortable with being uncomfortable.
While many men are not the problem themselves, they also are not working hard enough to be part of the solution of making women feel safer. Men do not necessarily care to understand all the precautions that women are forced to take because they, themselves, do not have to consider many of the safety risks women do. There is one simple fix to improving the situation of women’s safety, and it can be done on campus, at home, or relatively anywhere: walk women home with no other intention but to make sure that they get there safely.
From discussing this issue with female students, it seems overwhelmingly the case that male students walk their female friends home freshman year of college far more often than they do sophomore, junior, and senior year. Arcelia Peña-Bobadilla ’22 says, “I don’t remember a single night freshman year when I had to walk home alone. Someone always offered. That really doesn’t happen anymore though.”
There is no rational reason as to why male students might stop the trend of walking their female friends home after a night out, a study date in the library, a shared Uber ride together, or any other situation, but it seems to be largely the case in Providence College campus life. No matter how old women get, how independent and strong they may be, or how much they want to not need protection, they do.
In 2018, Guzman Hall, a male freshman dorm on campus, crafted a list of dorm rules. Amongst rules regarding the general cleanliness and expectations of the males who lived in the dorm, one read, “Walk female guests home.” In response to this rule, a lighthearted phrase began being tossed around amongst these Guzman residents: “Guz guys walk girls home.” While this phrase was true at the time, it did not remain true for many of them after they left Guzman Hall in the summer of 2019.
Another issue with the infrequency of female students being walked home is that, more often than not, a walk home is offered rather than just done. Oftentimes, women do not want to ask for help or accept such an offer because it seems to inconvenience the male who offered. Because women like to be self-sufficient, they might decline a walk home offer with, “It’s okay.” Unfortunately, it is okay until it’s not, and it takes one traumatic night or situation to fuel a lifetime of anxiety and overcautiousness. For this reason, do not ask a woman if she wants to be walked home, simply do it. While doing it, intentionally treat her respectfully as if she is a close friend or a sister.
At this point, it is not a matter of chivalry but a matter of safety. Ultimately, campus culture is at stake when safety is not prioritized, and students do not look out for each other. Boys, walk girls home.