It’s time to embrace reasonable paranoia

By Amber Siwicki

It has not yet been a full year since an Illinois State University student went missing from her apartment just off campus. Eight days later, her badly-burned body was found in a burnt-out chicken coupe in Mississippi. Her car was found in Atlanta not long after. A Normal, Ill. man also was found in Atlanta and was arrested on unrelated charges.

Certain evidence placed this man as a suspect in the murder of Olamide Adeyooye. Recently, he pleaded guilty on all counts against him for the murder of this intelligent, beautiful young woman. Though it does my heart good to know this man won’t ever again experience a normal life of freedom, it does not make up for Olamide not being able to experience all the great things to come in her own life.

We all read these sad stories time and time again. Yet many of us go to bed without locking our doors. I lock my door the second I step inside. My roommates make fun of me for this habit. However, how many people have been attacked, robbed, raped or even murdered for simply not turning the lock on their door? Between the jokes and the potential of being attacked, I prefer baring the annoyingly exaggerated title of “paranoid” within the walls of my safely-locked apartment. We should all be so “paranoid.”

Perhaps the major problem is that people generally tend to separate themselves from reality as long as that reality is not occurring on their front porch. According to the Office of Post-Secondary Education campus security statistics, there were 10 instances of forcible sex offenses, two counts of robbery and 60 counts of burglary on campus at NIU in 2004. Reality does not get much closer than that. Although those numbers may not be large enough to frighten the average keg party attendee, that would inevitably change unless one of them became included in the statistics.

Olamide was my best friend during the first two years of our high school lives. Obviously, her sad ending has only reinstated my already embedded cautious behavior. I think it is important for us all to be aware of our surroundings at all times. I think it is important to walk with someone when it gets dark outside. I think it is essential to glance through the peephole when receiving a knock on the door, and only open it for people we know and can trust. I believe in being a good Samaritan, but if some stranger asks me to assist them with something in their home, you can bet I will not be going inside.

We may be going to school, but there is no guarantee of safety. The lack of parents, although freeing, also is a notification that we are adults. We do have to fend for ourselves. We have to fold our own clothes, do our own dishes, buy our own groceries and protect ourselves.

It could be as simple as a flick of the wrist and as life-saving as a silver bullet in any horror movie featuring a werewolf. In high school, my nickname for Olamide was Starlight. Unfortunately, that’s one light forced to burn out far too soon. There are only so many stars in the sky, and we can’t wait until our own burns out to take notice.

Amber Siwicki is an opinion columnist for the Northern Star.