Cal Poly's campus at night in November 2021. Credit: Kayla Stuart | Mustang News

Nicki Butler is a psychology senior and Mustang News opinion editor. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News. 

In the alley between Front Porch and frat houses, dusk settles in. 

By this hour, it’s just me, the guys playing dye and a road that ends abruptly for a skinny set of stairs. A man’s walking towards me, with a strong build, blonde hair and blue eyes –– the description of a thousand other men on this campus. 

But this one crosses to the right when I cross right. 

And he just might fit the profile from an email I received a few weeks ago. 

So I’m silently running the odds that he’s the one from the email and not a sweet guy I’ve demonized in my head. Even if the odds say he’s not that guy, what are the odds he isn’t a different guy who just hasn’t been caught?

What are the odds he’s had clear and enthusiastic consent every time? What are the odds he’ll leave me alone tonight? What are the odds he takes another step and a half to the right and completely blocks my path? What are the odds I can get my pepper spray out of my pocket in time? What are the odds I scream before his hand gets to my mouth? What are the odds the frat houses take notice or care?

What are the odds I’m a goner? 

I’m still doing the math long after we’ve passed each other by. 

My safety is a statistic ready to be ratioed by the next attack. My comfort is shaking hands holding pepper spray I’ve never used. Whether it works or not remains to be seen, or hopefully never seen at all. 

If I’m the next victim and he drags me onto Grand Ave, does an email get sent out to every person I’ve never known? If I know his name and I see it on the class roster, could his description at the very least, be given to the other victims in this class section?

Whatever class I have with him becomes criminal justice as I plot my revenge. The psychologists will say I’m crazy, but of course I am. I’ve met a man. 

I’ve met a man who can pull the strings. Filing a complaint so they can pull a tidal wave against me and there’s a 50/50 shot that title IX sides my way, but the wage gap might tip those odds against me. 

I had a roommate meeting tonight to announce that we’re gonna start locking both locks. Deadbolt the top so the dead get scared off. 

I know the risk of walking alone in the dark, but I like it too much to just give it up. However, I swear I’ll keep my wits about me. Meanwhile, I’ll go crazy trying to detect shadows of men on a poorly lit street. 

Last thing I have: I’m proud of you, whoever made those reports. I’m grateful for the courage you must have mustered up. Every time I should have, I was shit out of luck. I’m proud of you, for doing what I could not.

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