Life on a college campus can be exciting, especially for freshmen enjoying their first taste of life away from home. As exciting as campus life can be, it also can be a bit nervewracking for students who have never before had to fend for themselves.
Administrators and security personnel work to make school environments as safe as possible, but incidents can happen on any campus. A recent report from Campus Safety and Security, there were 38,100 reported criminal offenses, including burglary and identity theft, on college campuses in the United States in 2017.
Students need not live in fear on campus, but embracing various safety measures can make life at school that much safer.
• Hide or lock up valuables. You never know what may catch the eye of a thief. Devices and cash are near the top of lists of most commonly stolen possessions, but a desperate student may steal notes or even expensive textbooks if he or she is struggling. Always close doors and lock dorm rooms when leaving. Keep valuables out of sight at school. Consider buying a dorm room safe and lock your locker at all times.
• Prepare for emergencies. Research the school’s policies on emergency preparedness. Some have text alert systems for emergency situations like adverse weather conditions, while others have clear guidelines on what students should do if they feel threatened in any way. Participate in fire drills and learn the nearest exits and protocols for emergency evacuations.
• Utilize the buddy system. Most campuses are safe to move around, but it can’t hurt to schedule certain classes, particularly if they take place after dark, with a friend so you can walk to and from classes together. Security experts say that elevators and stairwells are common places for assailants to target victims. If you ever feel uncomfortable, trust your instincts and err on the side of caution.
• Install window alarms. Many retailers sell battery-operated window alarms that can be adhered to windows. The alarms will activate if the window is opened or the glass breaks. These alarms can provide extra security even if your dorm room isn’t on the ground floor.
• Be alert when ridesharing. The safety resource Safety.com says rideshare crimes are on the rise. Always identify your driver and vehicle before getting in and ask the driver to identify your name, as he or she will have it and your destination. Wait for the ride in a safe place, and try to avoid riding alone.
• Maintain personal health. Be sure to visit the doctor and stay current on necessary vaccinations, such as the one for meningococcal disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk for meningococcal disease in college students is slightly higher than the risk in other teens and young adults who are not attending college. Other communicative diseases can spread more easily on campus as well.
Campus and dorm safety is multifaceted. Informed students can reduce their risk of being involved in accidents or being targeted by criminals.