Staying safe on college campuses or near a college campus is an ongoing problem. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there were 27,000 crimes reported in 2014 against people or property on the campus of two-year and four-year places of higher learning. Commonly reported crimes include burglary, forcible sex offenses, motor vehicle theft, and simple assault. These statistics are alarming. Spreading awareness of these acts can help young adults think and assess situations they may be in carefully.

General Safety

  • Always be aware of your surroundings.

  • The buddy system is effective. Use it.

  • Keep your doors locked if you find yourself home alone.

  • Report suspicious people. Sometimes you might think your mind is just over reacting, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

  • Don’t hitchhike.

  • Keep a phone charger in your bag and avoid your phone dying while on campus.


RELATED: 10 Tips For Staying Safe In Parking Garages


Protecting Your Property

  • Keep your doors locked, especially when you’re alone or when you’re sleeping. Make sure that if your lock isn’t working that you report it to the facilities management for it to be fixed or replaced as soon as possible.

  • Never let strangers inside your dorm or your apartment/house even if you are not alone in the house.

  • If you think that your dorm, room, or house has been broken into, do not enter. If you are just noticing once you are inside, do not touch anything. Rummaging to see what else was taken could lead to the damage of evidence.

  • If you wake up to an intruder or walk in on one, do not try to apprehend this person. Call the police and defend yourself, if necessary. 

  • Be cautious of using restrooms on campus at night.

Motor vehicles and bicycles

  • Keep your car locked and windows rolled up completely.

  • Never leave your vehicle running unattended.

  • Don’t keep valuables in your car. Do not leave your backpack in your car over night.

  • Have a record of your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and the title certificate number. This will make it easier to identify a stolen car.

  • When you are walking towards your car, be sure to have a key in hand and be aware of your surroundings as you’re walking to your car.

  • Make sure you are parking in a well-lit area.

  • Do not unlock your car until you’re close to your car, but it is also important to not be fumbling around with your keys.

  • Once you get into your car, shut your door and lock your car immediately.

  • If you are driving home and notice someone following you, call the police and never go directly to your place of residence.

  • Bicycle locks are highly recommended. A simple Google search can tell you which ones work best and which ones are tampered with the easiest.

  • See if your school or local police department offers a bike registry. 

  • Keep your bike in your room, apartment, or house, if possible. If not, make sure bike is locked in a well-lit, heavily traveled area.

Walking

  • Never walk alone at night.

  • Do not have earphones in when you’re walking alone.

  • Only walk in places where there is heavy foot traffic and is well lit. If you ever begin feeling uncomfortable, find a blue light phone which connects you to campus police. You can often call them on your cell phone to request a police escort.

  • If someone is dropping you off, ask that they stay there until you get inside. Do the same for your friends.

  • If you realize someone has been following you, drop whatever you have and run. Material things are replaceable. Your life is not. Survival is the most important thing.


RELATED: 5 Steps All Women Can Take To Protect Themselves


Sexual Assault

  • Always be with a friend.

  • Don’t be alone with a stranger.

  • Drink responsibly and don’t leave your drink unattended.

  • Take a self defense class.

  • Keep pepper spray and/or a legally concealed weapon with you at all times. On college campuses, concealed guns are likely illegal. Check your school’s rules on that.

  • If you see a friend wanting to go home with someone and either of them is extremely intoxicated, be sure to remove your friend from that situation if possible. 

A lot of times, perpetrators of these kinds are someone the victim knows. This often time makes it harder for someone to report these incidents to the police.

I asked a friend, who is a survivor of a sexual assault that happened on her campus, if there was any advice she could give in regards to tips. She gave this insightful advice. 

  • Always a friend go with you somewhere. It doesn’t even matter if it’s just the bathroom.

  • Document everything if someone does attack you. Everything from taking pictures of the scene, to pictures of body parts that are injured.

  • Try to have a witness that could vouch for you and what happened.

If you have been sexually assaulted, get immediate medical attention, talk to your friends and family, and speak with legal teams. If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault: be someone who they can speak to. There is also RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) who has a 24/7 assistance hotline. Their hotline is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Stay safe. Stay alert.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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