Did you know that colleges and universities that receive federal funding have to share their annual campus safety and security reports with community members each year? Under the Clery Act, campuses must share campus crime data for the past three years with the community. Becoming familiar with your particular campus’ report can help you identify if there are specific campus safety measures you can take. In addition, IACLEA, International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, recommends the following safety tips for college students.
- Program the phone number for the campus security or police departments into your phone and make the call. If you see something suspicious, report it.
- Empower yourself. Learn about prevention trainings that your campus may offer. Some colleges and universities offer self-defense classes, CPR classes, bystander trainings, and even active shooter trainings for students.
- Don’t walk alone. Use the buddy system. Some campus security programs offer late night escorts, walking buddies, or vans as a resource
- Protect your personal property. Don’t leave your backpack, computer, cell phone, or other items unattended, even if it’s just for a minute. Make it a habit to carry these items with you. Also lock up your valuable and medications in your residence hall or room.
- Report solicitors. Notify campus police if you are approached by someone asking for a donation or subscription or services package. These are common schemes to collect your personal information.
- On public transit, stay awake and alert. Keep your personal belongings near and if possible, sit close to an exit or the driver.
- If you commute or park on campus, take valuables with you. Do not leave them in plain sight. Lock your doors and close your windows.
- Keep personal information private. Carry only your necessary identification on you and lock the rest up. Don’t give personal information away.
- Keep your residence hall room locked and secure windows. Even if you are just going down the hall, lock your door. If your room is accessible via a combination or code, don’t give it out to anyone. Lock personal belongings and medications in a safe space. Lastly, don’t prop exterior doors or hold them open for people behind you that you do not know.
- Protect your bike. Many campuses offer free registration or etching your name onto your frame. Invest in a quality “u-lock” to secure your bike to a rack.
As a rule of thumb, be mindful of and pay attention to your surroundings. For example, if you are walking around campus with your headphones in and the volume turned up, you are not being mindful. Follow your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, trust yourself. If possible, remove yourself from the situation and report it.
Finally, consider installing an app like Circle of Six on your phone. This app allows you to pre-program up to six of your personal contacts for fast notifications. With a quick tap, you can quickly notify your circle for someone to come and meet you at your location, call you, or that you need to talk to someone. It’s a great physical and emotional safety resource.