For those who reside in Utah County, also known as Happy Valley, the characteristics that differentiate this part of Utah from the rest of the state and the rest of the country may be hard to notice, but to the rest of the world, Happy Valley is very peculiar. A large factor of this peculiarity is the safe environment.
It is not uncommon for students at UVU to leave their cell phones and purses on the table in the cafeteria while they throw their garbage away, or for students to leave apartments unlocked while making a quick trip to the grocery store. It is also commonplace for students to leave cars unlocked while running into the LA building for a few minutes. But should students be doing this? Are students too trusting of Happy Valley and the reputation that goes along with this area?
Sierra Masters was born and raised in American Fork and considers herself a “Happy Valley expert.”
“I’ve only been to a few other states,” Masters said. “I really like Utah and especially American Fork because I feel so safe here.”
Masters has recently begun taking classes at UVU and moved to Orem to be closer to campus. Masters says she feels just as safe living in Orem as she did in American Fork.
“I only live about 20 minutes away from my parents’ house, so I never really worried about feeling safe or not,” Masters said.
There are other students, however, who do not feel as safe in Utah Valley.
The Provo trail, located near Branbury Apartment complex, has had several reported attacks in the last two years.
There are many UVU students that live near this area and have to take specific precautions that otherwise might not be necessary.
McKenzie Ellsworth, junior, recently moved to the Branbury Apartments and has noticed how her worries and fears have increased since moving in.
“I lived at home with my family before I moved to Branbury, so moving out was already kind of a shock, but then when I heard about the attacks by my apartment. I was so scared,” Ellsworth said.
To ease her fears and become more aware, Ellsworth has read many articles and researched tips concerning self-defense.
“I have never been to a real self-defense class, but I’ve read articles that give little tips to protect yourself,” Ellsworth said.
Ellsworth said she avoids parking garages and walking to her car by herself. When she does walk by herself, she walks quickly, has her keys in her hand ready to unlock her door and does not look at her cell phone or rummage through her purse because she believes that would let an attacker know she is not on guard. She also carries pepper spray with her on her key chain. This helps her feel safe.