It’s 1 a.m. on a Friday night, and your phone buzzes. “An emergency has been reported on campus,” says the text. “Shelter in place until further notice.”
Then, the notifications pour in over GroupMe and other group chats. “Is everyone alright?” You ignore these notifications and head over instead to the unofficial Case Western Reserve University meme page, Case Memes for Academically Challenged Beans, on Facebook. Maybe you even mute the group chats as you browse through the spicy new content on the page.
The initial notifications go unanswered, and the senders are left worrying about the safety of their friends.
Warm weather means that more people are out and about at night, but the tedium of the messages from CWRU Alerts and concerned acquaintances makes it easy to ignore the potential danger. Often, the result is just that “the police have investigated the surrounding areas and found no immediate risk to the campus community” and that nobody was injured. Maybe whoever sent the message made a mistake, and it becomes fodder for jokes. Other times, though, students may actually be injured, like the shooting that took place last semester.
Cleveland is not the most dangerous city to live in, but it is a city nonetheless and it is important to be cautious. The CWRU police and security do a lot for us, as we have Safe Rides, walking escorts and the Shield app that can ensure our safety. But bad things have happened on campus before, and there is no doubt that bad things will happen again. Maybe it won’t be to you, but your wide range of acquaintances and friends could be at risk.
This is why checking in with friends is important. When you leave a friend’s house at 10 p.m., let them know when you arrive home. Click the heart button on the group chat messages that ask about everyone’s well-being, and if there is someone you know that might be outside at the time, like a friend in the theater department working on a show until late, a quick text to make sure that they are safe would not go amiss.
Just because a situation is frequent does not mean that it is not dangerous. People need to take care of each other.
Making memes and jokes is not inherently bad, however. The memes can be a good way to relieve the stress from being put into these situations frequently. But if something does happen and someone is hurt, the jokes can be seen as being insensitive and maybe even cruel. It’s impossible to ensure the safety of everyone on campus until we receive the CWRU Alert letting us know that things are alright, but we can make sure that the people we love are safe before checking out the meme page. That’s all we can do.
Won Hee Kim is a third-year English major with minors in creative writing and economics.