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Friday, Dec 8, 2023 | Latest Print Edition

EDITORIAL | Auburn, invest in the safety of your students

On Wednesday, Auburn University Campus Safety and Security sent an email notice to students about a report they received of the drugging of four females in a local rideshare bus in which the driver of the bus provided mixed drinks to the riders. 

Reported to Campus Safety and Security by Auburn Police and a campus safety authority, the incident occurred in a campus parking lot, meaning there is an imminent danger to students in a place they should feel safe.

You’ve probably already forgotten about the campus safety notice that Auburn University Campus Safety and Security sent out Jan. 30 about a drugging that occurred in an Auburn-affiliated apartment complex.

Even though the email was the first of its kind that Auburn students have received throughout the entirety of the 2022-2023 school year, it’s likely it only took a couple of minutes for it to slip your mind. It likely it only took a couple of minutes for it to slip everyone’s minds.

This is a result of the university continuously neglecting to invest in the resources it promotes to its students, disregarding the seriousness and depth of the problems of sexual assault and drugging and discounting and discrediting survivors. 

In the past, the purpose of this editorial might have been to urge survivors to report the things they have been through. We’re long past that point now though. 

The horrifying truth of the matter is that we understand why so many survivors either hesitate or refrain entirely from coming forward, and it is not a fault of their own.

It’s because in reality, the resources that Auburn so proudly promotes are entirely insufficient. The current systems set in place are not working, and they need to be re-examined. Auburn needs to be a better support system for its students.

It needs to move resources like Safe Harbor into spaces where they can adequately serve those who seek them out. It needs to reevaluate its green dot strategy to find ways to make it more beneficial and differential. It needs to stop pretending like the safety of its students is a priority and actually make it one.

In Feb., the Auburn University Board of Trustees approved over six new projects, renovations and demolitions, one of which being the construction of a new $200 million STEM and agriculture complex. 

Although it’s not a bad thing that Auburn is investing in its buildings, properties and schools, it needs to remember to invest in its students first. All the buildings and facilities in the world are worth nothing if the people who occupy them feel unsafe, unheard and unseen. 

You might be tired of reading article after article about sexual assault and campus safety, but the second we stop talking about it is the second we believe that it’s okay, that it’s not worth it and that we don’t need change.

But Auburn does need change. 

It needs to take responsibility for the culture it has created in which sexual assault and drugging consistently get pushed under the rug, “resources” don’t even have their own buildings and survivors are treated as if they are the problem. 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Plainsman's editorial board and do not necessarily represent that of the entire newsroom. 

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