Having the chance to live in a foreign country while going to school can be a rewarding and exciting experience for many international students, but it is also important to not become reckless and lose sight of safety.
As an international student myself, I went through an uncomfortable experience a few years ago. I was approached by a man who asked me if I was Muslim, and then went on to ask me very irrelevant personal questions. I lied, of course.
I was very friendly to strangers back then, but after that long, creepy conversation, I became fearful of any stranger, or even student, potentially targeting me. I don’t even want to include where this took place, in case he is reading this and finds out what my real name actually is.
Ever since then, taking precautions before going out has become part of my daily routine. After hearing about a few incidents that have happened to non-American citizens across the states, including a UMKC graduate student who was fatally shot in Olathe by a man yelling out racial slurs, I try not to let my guard down.
Following recent events, such as the plaza shooting in front of Shake Shack that took place last Tuesday (which isn’t that far from campus), it has raised concerns about our safety: What are the odds of anything dangerous happening to us?
The most important thing to remember is that the International Students Affairs Office is always there to help. Located in the basement of the Atterbury Student Success Center, you can get all the help you need, whether it be safety-related or just general information like renewing your travel documents or needing letters to apply for a driver’s license.
Another thing international students should not shy away from is contacting UMKC campus police if they feel threatened or have suspicions about people targeting them. The campus police are located on Oak Street across from the Oak apartments, and are there to protect every student from harm.
Finally, the UMKC Title IX Office is there to help students, faculty and staff from sex-based discrimination. If you face any kind of sexual assault, harassment, relationship violence or stalking, contact them immediately. All contact information is available on their website at info.umkc.edu/title9.
If you are not sure if you’re facing discrimination, check the FAQ tab on the organization’s website as well, which has information on what sexual misconduct may look like.
In general, always notify your friends about your whereabouts, especially if you are out alone somewhere new, or out alone in the evening.
There is no need to feel like you are a bother. You should also always be there for your friends when they need help.