Crime happens everywhere and that includes on college campus. However, there are simple steps that you can take to ensure your safety on campus.
It is a sad fact that whilst heading off to college should be about education and fun, it is also a time when students get their first lessons in crime. This may include robbery, theft or even rape and sexual assault.
Keep the following tips in mind that take minimal effort but can avoid a lot of life-altering problems later.
- 1 1. Secure Your Windows and Doors
- 2 2. Maintain Privacy on Social Media
- 3 3. Party Smart, Not Hard
- 4 4. Take a Self-Defense Class
- 5 5. Use the Campus Escort Service
- 6 6. Don’t Let Strangers Into the Dorms
- 7 7. Trust Your Gut
- 8 8. Walk with Confidence
- 9 9. Speak Up
- 10 10. Use the Buddy System
- 11 11. Always Keep a Phone Within Reach
- 12 12. Be Careful When Getting in Your Car
- 13 13. Always Let Someone Know Where You Are Going
- 14 14. Lock Your Laptop and Phone
- 15 15. Keep Moving
- 16 16. Carry Self-Defense Product
1. Secure Your Windows and Doors
Locks are there for a reason but they only work if you actually use them. Your doors should be locked at all times, even when you are only running down the hall for a few moments. If you leave, lock it and keep it locked once you are also inside. In the same way, if you have any windows that are adjacent to a fire escape, lock them up. You would never leave your home without the locking the doors so don’t do it when you leave your dorm either.
2. Maintain Privacy on Social Media
We live in a very social media driven world nowadays and it makes it very easy to communicate with friends and family from around the world. The problem is that when you write something on your social media accounts, you never fully understand exactly who is reading it and you should always be mindful of this. Also, avoid geotagging your photos as doing so reveals your location to strangers. If you are going away, don’t announce it over social media where unwanted eyes may view it.
Take the time now to go through each of your accounts on social media websites and review the settings. Disable location services, make the accounts private and always think twice before posting anything. For more information, check out our post “How Your Social Media Accounts are Making You a Target“.
3. Party Smart, Not Hard
There is no problem with going out to a party and having a drink but you need to be smart about it and remain in control at all times. If you are unaware of how many drinks you have had then that is a clear indication that you have had too many. Always keep your drinks with you and don’t accept a drink from anyone that you do not trust or know well. Heading to the bathroom? take your drink with you or throw it away and get a fresh one. The thing is, it is not always possible to know whether something has been added to your drink until it is too late. For more information, check out our article “Protecting Yourself From Date Rape Drugs“.
4. Take a Self-Defense Class
Many colleges offer self-defense classes for their students with some even offering special classes for self-defense techniques for women. If your college offers this, take advantage of it and more importantly, actually attend the self-defense classes. By learning how to physically protect yourself, it will help you to feel safer as well as more confident. You don’t need to be a kick-ass kung-fu master but you do need some classes and tips from a professional instructor.
5. Use the Campus Escort Service
If your college has a campus escort service, use it which can help you to stay safe when traveling late at night. With these systems, volunteers will escort you to where you are going so that you don’t have to walk on your own. Never feel silly or afraid to call them, that is what they are for.
6. Don’t Let Strangers Into the Dorms
It is not just about protecting yourself but also protecting other students and one of the ways in which you can do this is by not allowing anyone into your hall that you don’t know. Ask them for ID and leave them waiting outside while you go and find the person they are looking for. Never let a stranger make you feel guilty, it is their job to explain to you, not the other way around.
7. Trust Your Gut
Our instincts are something that should never be ignored. If you think that you are being followed, get to some place safe as quickly as you can. If you think you are in danger, make as much noise as possible to alert others to the fact that you need help. If someone is pressuring you, it’s better to lie and make up an excuse to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse.
A predator wants an easy target so don’t walk around daydreaming or with your head in your phone so that you are always aware of what is going on around you. If you are the victim of a crime, be sure to call the police right away.
8. Walk with Confidence
Any time you are on foot, whether heading to class or out of town, understand the route that you are to take and how you are going to get there. Walk with confidence and avoid looking confused, even when you’re trying to navigate a new location. Keep a downloaded version of your campus map on your phone and use your GPS to help find high trafficked routes. Keep away from deserted paths.
9. Speak Up
Don’t become a spectator. If you want a safer campus you need to start speaking up and reporting when you see something wrong. Schools often have emergency phones placed around the campus that can be used to contact public safety. Noting the locations of these machines is a way to prepare for a possible emergency. Also know how to contact campus police. Their phone numbers should be posted near your phone in your college dorm or off-campus apartment, and it’s a good idea to have the numbers programmed into your cell phone as well.
10. Use the Buddy System
The saying is true ‘there is safety in numbers‘. It is simple, if you’re going somewhere go with a friend. It doesn’t matter how big they are or whether they’re male or female. Always take a friend. You don’t have to watch every move but keep an eye on each other. Make a plan with your friends beforehand and don’t leave anyone behind at a party.
11. Always Keep a Phone Within Reach
Put all your emergency contact numbers in your phone as well as written down and kept in your room. If your wallet or phone is stolen, will you know what phone number to call to cancel your credit cards?
12. Be Careful When Getting in Your Car
What do you do when you get in your car? In most cases it would be that you walk up, unlock the door and get in, right? Most people never even think about looking in the backseat of the car before they get in. There are many stories where predators have hidden in the backseat of a vehicle and waited. Instead of just getting in and thinking “It would never happen to me”, walk at an angle towards your car so that you have full view around the vehicle and check the backseat before getting in. Always keep your car doors locked, the windows rolled up and the alarm engaged, even when you are only going to be a few minutes.
13. Always Let Someone Know Where You Are Going
When you were growing up, I am sure that your parents wanted to know where you were, where you were going, etc. There was good reason although when young it may have felt that they were just interfering. They wanted to know that you were safe. Even now that you are entering college you need to understand that it is still a good precaution to let others know where you are going and what time you expect to be back.
14. Lock Your Laptop and Phone
It doesn’t matter whether you choose to use some form of electronic tracking device or a physical lock just get some form of locking device for you laptop. The same goes for a phone, there are many apps that can be used on your smartphone that will allow it to be tracked if it gets stolen.
15. Keep Moving
An attack can happen anywhere and at any time of the day, especially when you’re alone. We have already mentioned that you should go out with at least one other person but if that is not possible, don’t hang around outside your residence. Start getting your keys ready as you walk towards your building so that you can get straight in and don’t stop to answer a text message on your phone, do it when you are some place safe. It is also a good idea to ring somebody when you are on your way home, don’t get too deep into the conversation that you forget the surroundings but predators may see it as too easy that you could give a description to those on the other end.
16. Carry Self-Defense Product
Here in the uk we are very limited to the kinds of things we can carry with us. We can’t carry pepper spray or stun guns but if you live in a country where these are legal, we advise that you do so. Whatever you choose to use, check the local laws beforhand. Along with these, we recommend carrying a whistle with you which can be used to alert others nearby that you require assistance or are in danger. There are also many different personal alarm key chains that you can carry. These are usually only small but let out a piercing sound when you are attacked and you pull the pin.
Heading off to college doesn’t need to be scary, it is an adventure but that still means that you should use a little common sense and do what you can to remain safe.