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one year out, it's still about Michelle

Michelle Gardner-Quinn, '07, had a great time at Parents' Weekend last October. This week last October.

Moving and dancing from party to party, and finally unable to find friends, and with a broken cellphone, she started walking back to her dorm, up one of the widest and best-lighted streets in this whole state. At 2:30 AM.

A young man, a stranger, fell in step beside her and offered her his phone.

Six days later her slaughtered body was found by hikers. It had been dumped into a ravine: she'd been chloroformed, thrown into his car, driven out of town, raped, strangled and knifed by the stranger. Who'd run up a long record of physical and sexual attacks on women and girls and had once cholorformed an 11-year-old so he could have sex with her. Who had deftly fallen through the cracks of our criminal justice system [until now]. By sheerest coincidence, it happened that the police got a positive make from security camera images, on a private building they had just happened to walk up the hill in front of. The DNA comparisions from her clothes and her body have proven that the chance of someone *else* doing that to Michelle is one in 410 billion.

One year out, I was invited to sit in on a Psych class and the prof discussed Michelle's life and the following 12 months; the uni has done lots of things that her kids complained were cosmetic but didn't really effectively address their security problems, and many in class were still scared.

The prof also revealed that although the uni has a policy of moving exam deadlines and project due dates for all athletes, there is NO policy for the same thing if the student is not an athlete but instead needs time off for counseling [rape counseling or any other kind, or who just needs a bit of stress relief from course due dates]. Profs deciding to grant that run the risk of getting their butts kicked by their academic bosses.

And perhaps in the greatest of ironies, Michelle's parents had been glad she was transferring up here for her Senior year, from the Baltimore area, where they were afraid of the climbing crime rates. Up here things would be so much quieter and safer for her...

We are all Michelle.

Students and partyhounds. "Does what happened to her really apply to *me*?"

Additional to feeling deeply sad about a future that vanished --- guess my point is:

Do you still wonder who's the first line of defense for YOUR personal safety?

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
ex_kiota
Oct. 9th, 2007 12:43 am (UTC)
...damn.

There's actually a service on campus here that offers police escorts to people walking alone at night, male or female.
silverplate88
Oct. 9th, 2007 05:32 pm (UTC)
Yep, we had that in place last year, too....but Michelle was somewhat ... uhm ...impaired, and tired ... and it was only a short walk >__<

So: plz USE your campus service even if you have a tinytiny feeling you might need it --- ---- even if that makes you feel stupid. Better that, than .... x.x

Or, also, carry your knife XD3

<3 sp88
ex_kiota
Oct. 11th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
My knife is in Israel, but I want to buy a new one here, it does make me feel safer - even if it's just a false sense of security, feeling safe makes me act more confident and thus people are less likely to approach me.

I talked about the police thing with Max and told her a little about Michelle, and she agreed it's a good idea and will try to do it as well. I'll mention it to the rest of my friends as well, male and female.
silverplate88
Oct. 11th, 2007 10:45 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. Feeling confident and moving in confident ways = a great contributor to your safety O.o Almost every Advocacy Center I know about, plus my own trainers at the Crisis Center, push that idea. Also: being *aware* of what your surroundings are doesn't equal being *afraid* of that. You're just, welll... more ALERT and therefore much less attractive to a predator -- as the cops all say as well :P

There's lots of stuff on Michelle you can get via Google, her killer is Brian Rooney. Our local paper printed a big review story on M [last Sunday, I think it was], at http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com so it's prob available on their search engine now, and not in their historical archive. Maybe you can access last Ocotber's stories from their homepage too.

I think a lot of campuses paid attention since there was worldwide media coverage and since we used to be known as such a quiet, safe school ...
ex_kiota
Oct. 11th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
In fact, perhaps I will post fliers on it or even distribute a zine, because it's really important.
silverplate88
Oct. 11th, 2007 10:49 pm (UTC)
That's great, motek, I bet Max would help you :D

Every little bit that can be done to help keep kids [of ALL sexes] safe *before* something happens is worth it, you bet it's reallyreally important. Silence is the enemy x.x
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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