Self-defense is not the same as using a weapon

By Alexandra Laurence | LTVN Reporter/Anchor

Coming to college at Baylor means it’s essentially the first time in some students’ lives to be on their own. Moving into the dorms on campus has great benefits but of course comes with some restrictions. For example, Baylor allows pepper spray on campus but does not allow it in residence halls.

This is an alarming discovery, as I keep pepper spray on me at all times as a means of self-defense. Take a look on campus at girls’ key rings; it won’t take you very long to see girls doing the same thing and keeping pepper spray on them just in case. Waco’s total crime rates have gone up and down over the years, and tons of people walk home at night from the library, go on a late-night ice cream run or even find themselves in the middle of the day on a walk outside by themselves just a little ways off campus and want that sense of security when they walk into their dorm.

The scariest statistic of them all is that there were 710 violent crime incidents reported in Waco in 2020. And yet, the residence halls will not let us have in our possession an effective self-defense device? We are young adults who want to protect ourselves and will use it appropriately. As Texas is one of the top states for sex trafficking, a college campus where thousands of young adults — specifically women ages 18 to 22 — live seems like the most ideal place for something bad like this to happen.

The thing about pepper spray is that it is a highly effective deterrent with immediate results. When you use pepper spray, it creates a burning sensation in the eyes, nose, mouth and throat and causes difficulty breathing; you can possibly go blind as well, as eyes are swollen shut. The effects can last up to a few hours.

Pepper spray leaves people feeling more confident and safe when they are on their own and gives them a valuable advantage when being alone. Pepper spray can be the difference in having a near-death experience and can help people get out of situations unscathed. In a city that has a statistically high crime rate, it can end an attack without physical force or violent action and is non-lethal. Pepper spray is legal in Texas, and we should be encouraged to have it on hand in our residence halls.