Crime happens everywhere, and one change you’ll face after high school is that some of the safety around you will be up to you – not your parents, not the school.
Keep in mind: This ain’t the movies. Some of the stories you hear may sound like Hollywood stuff and they are. But some of it is real: burglary, rape, robbery, arson, all of it can happen, and does. It’s smart to be concerned about safety and security.
About a third of reported crimes on campuses happen in dormitories. The biggest percentage of reported crimes happening to college and university students happen while they are off-campus.
The 2010 federal Campus Security Act, also known as the Clery Act, requires colleges and universities to keep records of on-campus crime, including violent offenses, burglaries and auto thefts, as well as arrests for alcohol, drug and weapons violations. Those records are open to you as a prospective student, and they’re worth checking out. They’re required to be available online.
The Clery Act focuses on providing students with a safe learning and living environment through effective communication mediums such as automatic phone calls, emails and texts to provide “timely warnings” triggered by events that pose ongoing threats to staff and students.
Some students who choose their school carefully – or who are wary in general – might never feel a physical safety threat in college.
Asking questions can help to give you a good idea about how much crime you will have to be prepared to face at college. Web sites like http://campussafety.com give you some of the important questions to ask a school.
Knowing what kind of crime is in and around a campus is half the battle. Once you reach a school, keep alert. It sounds hokey, but the buddy system works. Until you learn what kind of area you are in, don’t go out alone after dark. Be cautious about locking your doors — in your room and in your car.
Unfortunately the unthinkable happens. You will want to be able to protect yourself. Something as common as mace or as simple as a hat pin will help. Either of these in parts of an attacker will not only distract them but also give you a chance to get away.
Staying Safe in the Dorm
• Always lock the door to your dorm room or apartment, regardless of how long you plan to be gone. (It only takes a few seconds for someone to enter your room and steal your valuables.)
• Do not loan out your key. Re-key locks when a key is lost or stolen.
• Do not leave notes on your door announcing no one is at home.
• Don’t leave identification, wallets, checkbooks, jewelry, cameras and other valuables in open view.
• Get to know other residents on your floor or in your complex and don’t be reluctant to report illegal activities and suspicious loitering.
• Require identification and authorization from repair or maintenance persons wanting to enter your room.
Staying Safe on Campus
• Always travel in groups. Use a shuttle service after dark. Never walk alone at night. Avoid “shortcuts.”
• Study the campus and neighborhood with respect to routes between your residence and class/activities schedule. Know where emergency phones are located.
• Share your class/activities schedule with parents and a network of close friends. Give network telephone numbers to your parents, advisors, and friends.
• Keep your car or truck locked at all times.
• Park in a well-lighted parking lot.
By NEXT staff
College life can be fun. But it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful.