Being on a college campus is exciting because you have the chance to meet a lot of new people from different backgrounds. You also have more freedom to make your own decisions and stretch your independence. Now that you're responsible for your own well-being, you need to take precautions to make sure you stay safe.
Be Safe at Home and Away
If you live in campus or college housing, the school is responsible for your safety. How schools handle this duty varies from campus to campus and includes features like security stations, safety officers, emergency phones and pass-code security systems. Find out what services your school offers and how to use or contact them.
Campus Housing Safety
These tips will help you become aware of your surroundings in campus housing.
- Elevators. Never get on an elevator if someone suspicious is either already on or about to get on with you. Stand near the controls so you can press the alarm button and the button for the next floor if you feel threatened.
- Isolated places. Be careful, especially late at night, in places like:
- Laundry rooms.
- Tunnels and passageways.
- Dorm rooms. Keep your door locked at all times. If you live in a building where everyone leaves their doors open, at least lock up at bedtime. Don't remove safety gates and window jambs. They are there for your safety.
- Dorm buildings. Even in a locked dorm, you may be at risk.
- Don't loan anyone your keys or tell anyone the door combination.
- If you don't know someone, don't allow them in. Also make sure others follow this practice. Ask for ID from people who say they work for places like:
- Utility companies.
- Campus security.
- Pest control.
- If you think your school's policy for dorm safety is not strict enough or not enforced:
- Mention it at your dorm meeting.
- Talk about it at a student government open forum.
- Write a letter or send a petition to the campus safety office outlining specific problems and possible solutions.
Campus and Community Safety
Stay safe when you're out and about.
- Know your area. Note where emergency phones and security stations are, and pay attention to places that might be particularly unsafe at night.
- Show confidence. Walk with authority and look like you know exactly where you're going, even if it's only an act.
- Pay attention. To your surroundings and people who are walking behind, in front of and across from you. When walking or in an open area, pay attention to your surrounds and not your phone.
- Lighten your load. Carry as few bags and books as you can. If you do have a lot to cart around, think about a wheeled backpack.
- Use the buddy system. Especially at night, avoid walking or running alone. Some campuses offer escort services; use them.
- Take a self-defense class. Many schools offer these programs. If yours doesn't, chances are good there is one in a nearby community.
- Keep your ears open. If you're running or walking alone, leave the headphones behind so you can hear what's going on around you.
- Keep your cell phone handy. Program the number for campus safety or 911 into your speed dial, so you can dial quickly.
Keep Tabs on Your Campus
The Jeanne Cleary Act requires colleges and universities to disclose important campus crime and safety information. You can use this information to find a school that's right for you and to become aware of situations on your campus. Find information about the Jeanne Cleary Act and other campus security information at the Security on Campus, Inc., website.