WA Girls Transportation tips

Gretchen Steele, Website designer and Social Media coordinator

        It is essential to take care of yourself and be safe when traveling by train. Unfortunately, women fall victim to unnecessary attention bringing on harassment from strangers. From a person who has dealt with this sexual harassment on public transportation, here are some guidelines for you all to use and stay safe while transporting.   

         When I was a freshman, I lived in Chicago and commuted up north to  Woodlands Academy every day by train. I wasn’t alone; other students traveled as well, and we’d all sit together. One day someone noticed the man sitting behind us every single day just staring. At first, I didn’t think much of it because we see the same people on the train every day. As time progressed, he would make remarks to us using our first names. It gave me chills because we never told him our names or interacted with him. He would try to converse with us, asking personal questions. Not a day went by when he wasn’t in the same train car as us. It got to the point where we had to tell our conductors because we feared for our safety. The conductors were so helpful and excellent at handling the situation. The stalker was not allowed to sit in the same car as us, and if he did, he would face serious repercussions. That situation made all Woodland’s train riders more aware and cautious of strangers, especially overly friendly. I tell you this story not to scare you but to make you realize that offensive things like that happen on trains. As girls, especially those in revealing outfits, get unnecessary attention and need to learn to protect ourselves. 

      When you use public transportation, here are the steps you should use to defend and protect yourself. For starters, always carry pepper spray or mace with you. I feel like it doesn’t need any explanations. The next thing you should know is to act like you’re busy or doing something. What I mean by that is to put your headphones in and ignore strangers trying to talk to you. Not engaging in small talk with them at all is the best way to stay safe. Even if you tell them to leave you alone, it’s best to just not talk to them at all.

       Wearing our uniform skirts when on the train, unfortunately, can turn the wrong heads. Here are some tips I’ve come up with for etiquette while wearing our school uniform which happens to be a skirt. When you’re in your skirt or dress on the train, I suggest wearing sweatpants underneath. It’s comfortable and safe. If you don’t wear sweatpants, that’s fine as well, but be cautious. Now, if you’re sleeping on the train and not wearing sweatpants, here’s my tip for you. If you’re sleeping lying down, then have your legs facing the window and your head facing the aisle, or just sleep upright. 

Last but not least, how to build safe relationships on the train. The only people that you can trust on the train are your Woodland friends and the conductor.  The conductor’s job isn’t just to check your tickets. It’s also to keep everyone safe while traveling, and they take it very seriously when it comes to people harassing others on the train. They will kick them off if any misbehavior is directed toward you, making you feel uncomfortable!