Awareness key to safety, success

If there was any simple way to define September 2008 for Cougars, it was the pervading issue of a false sense of security. From the hurricane, to the crime and even from an academic standpoint, it seems that our wits have been dulled.

One of the most defining events for the campus and the entirety of Houston was the havoc caused by Hurricane Ike. Needless to say, the administration’s rationale to reopen the school was not well received. It seems that the decision to reopen despite the conditions endured by Cougars and their families and the lack of adequate communication was dominated by the mindset that "It will somehow work out."

The administration was further criticized for not even waiting for that Wednesday to make an assessment on reopening and trusting in a proxy issued by the mayor that many contend was directed at city cleanup crews. A false sense of security seemed to pervade the reasoning behind the administration’s decision – that it would all be okay and that Cougars would find a way to cope with the disaster adequately enough to attend school by Tuesday. Of course, this was not the case for many Cougars, even now.

Looking into one’s e-mail has been somewhat of a dark lottery for all Cougars. We check and there it is, an almost daily update on all the crime that has transpired on campus, where any one of can be the next "winner." Examining most of these crimes, almost all of them happen at night, mostly to women, to individuals who are alone and in parking lots and as cases of aggravated assault. It seems that the best way to see change in this manner is ultimately the responsibility of every single Cougar and not solely the police.

To trust that the police presence is adequate, or that common perception "it will never happen to me," are examples of how a false sense of security pervades our mindset. It’s apparent that if people followed something as simple as not traveling alone at night, the vast majority of these crimes wouldn’t happen as frequently.

In a random quick survey, conducted by my self, of 15 students, 10 of them didn’t know of the escort service employed by the University. Criminals thrive on this ignorance and false sense of security that clouds our eyes, but staying smart and proactive, as well as actually taking the advice all these criminal alerts give us about your own welfare and that of other Cougars, can drastically help alleviate this problem.

Academically, September ushered in, for many, the first wave of tests and major papers. One of the most popular things students like to do, which freshman are notorious for, is to put off studying until the last minute – to try to get it all done in the nights leading up to the test or paper, rather than progressively accomplish their studying and work over the course of a few weeks. Students are lulled into a false sense of security by the amount of time they receive to study or accomplish work.

As time passes quickly, which is often the case in a student’s life, this false sense of security backlashes on us and finally turns into a true sense of insecurity, which leads to the stress of cramming and even seizures in some cases. This is an addiction, which blinds us to what college is trying to teach us – to work diligently. Sure we learn the material, but to what avail is that if we become, through habit, people who do things at the last minute?

This false sense of security also invades many other aspects of our lives, from trusting your mechanic to give you a good rate to the ever so impersonal Internet and its schemes. Ultimately, it’s up to us to be keen and alert to the environment around us and, more importantly, ourselves if we are to rise above the smokescreen and prudently act in all facets of our lives.

Hayes, a philosophy freshman, can be reached via [email protected]

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