By Will Lyons, Staff Writer -- firstname.lastname@example.org
"I didn't mean to freak you out," said a threatening man on the UP side of Willamette Boulevard while psychology professor Deana Julka was walking home from teaching her senior seminar class on Feb. 28.
This individual followed Julka for about three blocks after she crossed the street to avoid him. Eventually, Julka had to walk into traffic in order to get in the light of passing cars to thwart the individual's advances.
"Once the headlights were on him, he put this thing into the back of his pants," Julka said.
Now knowing if the man had a weapon of some sort, she walked in the street with the lights of the car for a few blocks before running the last half block back to her house.
"It was definitely frightening," Julka said. "I've been living in the neighborhood for 14 years and things like this happen."
Despite the close call, Julka remains positive.
"I still do feel safe here," Julka said. "I wouldn't live here with my family if I didn't."
Incidents like what happened to Julka periodically call into question the safety of the University Park neighborhood.
UP offers services to help students proactively stay safe. Public Safety holds a women's self defense class in Mehling Hall at the beginning of each semester. Students are encouraged to call Public Safety for an escort if they find themselves in an unwanted situation, and Public Safety Director Harold Burke-Sivers helps those who live off campus to protect their apartments and rented houses.
"I do written safety evaluations," Burke-Sivers said. "Most of the evaluations I do aren't university-owned houses."
The best way to avoid dangerous situations might be paying attention.
"I don't want people to stay in the halls because they are concerned about off campus safety, but students do need to be aware of the risks around," Mehling Hall Director Holly Allar said.
Safety ideas for all:
"I jog without earbuds in, in order to be aware of my surroundings," Julka said.
"I carry pepper spray in my purse just in case," sophomore Hannah Kintner said.
"Let people know if you're going out alone," Director of Public Safety Harold Burke Sivers said.
"Walk with your car keys in your hands. They can be a good weapon in a pinch," Mehling Hall Director HollyAllar said.