With Crime Up, Students Forge Their Own Safety Tactics

HUNTER COLLEGE–Last week, Feda Hammood was on the N train heading to her home in Brooklyn after class at Hunter. Upon reaching Herald Square Station, a disheveled man got up from his seat, pulled down his pants, squatted in front of her, and defecated on the train floor.

“I didn’t look at him. I was scared,” said the biology major. “If I didn’t look away I was gonna be traumatized for life.” Hammood fled the train car too quickly to be indecently exposed. But per her mother’s advice, she’s been carrying around a pocket-sized can of pepper spray since starting her freshman year, for moments like these when she feels threatened.

Hammood wasn’t physically hurt, but some riders are. According to the crime report of a January MTA committee meeting, major felonies were up by 63% during December 2021. In it, the NYPD reports that last year, 200 people were hit by a train — 30 of them pushed.