Schmidt: AU community is safe on, off campus | The American Word

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Schmidt: AU community is safe on, off campus

Kelly Schmidt | 4/24/13 10:36pm

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the April 25 print edition of our magazine.

Bad things can happen anywhere and, tragically, they do. While there is always the risk of bad things occurring wherever we go, I believe almost all of us would concur that American University exists in a relatively safe area of the city. Campus certainly is safe, as we are told the campus police are never more than a few seconds away if needed. The surrounding neighborhood is also secure: nestled with multimillion dollar homes among foreign embassies, there is hardly any serious crime to report of. And it is relatively safe in the immediate areas both up and down Massachusetts Avenue, with neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and Dupont Circle to our south, and Bethesda, Maryland to our north.

Such a bubble of safety provides us with the comfort and peace of mind we all undoubtedly want, but we must raise the question of whether that “bubble” can actually obscure our view of what exists outside: a much crueler, less safe world that many resign to simply being the “real world.” Looking at the idea of a “crueler” world, one would think of less tolerance and hatred being directed at various minority groups or unpopular schools of thought. On American’s campus, I believe most would agree that the atmosphere is quite to the contrary: tolerance and acceptance is palpable everywhere you go, allowing several groups and organizations to express their views openly and without worry. But is it really like this off of this campus and away from this city? Is the “safe space” that is AU blocking our view of the outside of world and pulling the blinds down on the world we will meet once we receive our diplomas? And if so, how drastic is this blinding effect?

When each of us examines this question personally, it is inevitable we will all come away with different answers. And for someone who is only about to conclude my freshman year, I find it incredibly arduous to answer this question for myself. I do not have four years of classes or personal observations to base such an opinion from. I am, however, optimistic that after four years, AU will fulfill its mission of leaving its students with an education that can guide us through the good and ugliness of the world. In fact, the very reason the question of this proverbial “bubble” should be brought up is to spark some awareness of our surroundings, for I feel we all can agree that simply being aware and alert to world around us is a key element of a true education.