On the Saturday after Thanksgiving – while I was home on break – my roommates and I received a text from our upstairs neighbor. Someone had broken in to her apartment, as well as the other apartment above us on the second floor. Our door was the only one of the three apartments in our complex that hadn’t been opened, but she couldn’t get in to check whether anything had happened since our door was locked.
There was a slight glimmer of hope before coming back to school that our place hadn’t been hit. That was quickly erased after seeing my bedroom window wide open with footprints on my desk. It turns out that was the point of entry, and the perpetrator had taken my roommate’s video game system and a pair of expensive speakers from another.
They didn’t take anything of financial value from me. However, I wish the person had if it meant he or she would give back the vintage shot glasses I had collected from different European countries I visited while studying abroad.
I kept waiting for a shiver of fear or helplessness to take over while filing the police report or going to sleep after it happened to accompany the material loss. Despite the clichéd questions about what it felt like to have a stranger in our apartment, the anxiety never came.
I’ll admit that a five-iron golf club now sits within grabbing distance of the head of my bed.
The surprising calmness I felt was something I can’t explain. Maybe subconsciously I’d prepared myself for something like this to happen considering Temple’s location. Or maybe if more had been taken, I’d feel worse about it. I’m really not sure.
I was sure of one thing: I didn’t want people to know – or at least my family and friends who don’t go to Temple.
I think my fellow Temple students can relate. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve been asked if I felt safe walking around campus at night or if I thought there was enough security. On one instance, I was asked if I had bought a gun in a sad attempt at a joke.
I love living in the city, and even more so, I love going to Temple. I’ve spent the last four years trying to slowly break down the annoying and oftentimes incorrect stereotypes about going to school in North Philly. I’m not arguing that Temple doesn’t deserve that reputation in some respects. However, the generalizations are often based on a small minority of bad personal experiences, reinforced by media coverage and occasionally masked by racism.
Plenty of us didn’t come from urban areas and were warned by people back home when we decided to become Owls. And although we know going to school at Temple isn’t the terrifying experience some people believe it to be, sometimes those “worst case scenarios” become reality.
I’m a little more meticulous when locking my apartment now, and I’m more easily startled when I hear noises in the night. But I don’t for a second regret going to Temple. And no, I haven’t bought a gun.
Dan Craig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.