On July 17, Lt. Jalaine Hawkes from the Utah Highway Patrol hosted an LGBTQ+ safety chat in Salt Lake Community College’s Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs.
SLCC students, faculty and staff gathered to talk about how to be safer on campus and in our everyday lives. The event invited all attendees to contribute to the discussion, regardless of sexual orientation, gender or age.
Representatives from South Valley Sanctuary, or SVS, attended the discussion. SVS is a confidential safe shelter for anyone escaping violent homes. They discussed safety in the home and what to do if a conflict were to arise involving a close friend or family member.
The first discussion topic focused on how to get help in an unsafe situation, especially on campus. Hawkes, who oversees the UHP detail at multiple SLCC campuses, talked about the officers and troopers stationed day and night at Taylorsville Redwood, Jordan and South City campuses. There are always people to escort anyone if they feel unsafe and to help with any other dangerous scenario.
Hawkes emphasized that everyone should have a written safety plan for themselves. That plan could include keeping an emergency bag in your car, with anything you might need to stay somewhere overnight. She said to always tell someone where you are going, especially when dating or meeting new people.
The last thing Hawkes stressed was having a good relationship with your neighbors. They can look after you or your house when you aren’t home.
To close off the meeting, Hawkes brought up the point that someone might have had bad experiences with law enforcement in the past.
“As much as there are officers who aren’t as good at recognizing differences in other people, there are just as many who do care,” she says. “Don’t let past negative experiences stop you from reporting something that needs to be reported.”
There are victim’s advocates available to those who feel unsure about the process or just need someone on their side. They are people hired specifically to help victims when reporting and with the process that follows.
Hawkes and SVS, along with everyone who participated in the discussion, brought meaningful comments. The whole hour was filled with educational topics that can be applied to everyone’s lives. Event organizers prepared an array of snacks and coffee for people to munch on throughout.
Any SLCC student or employee who needs assistance can call campus dispatch at 801-957-3800. SVS can be reached via their 24-hour hotline, at 801-255-1095.