Staying Safe on Campus: Tips for Students

 Staying Safe on Campus: What Students Should Know

It’s about time to start the college year again. This comes with a lot of excitement and preparation, however there are some things you need to know before going to college, especially if this is your first year. 

College is a fun place. There are a lot of clubs, sororities and fraternities, a lot of opportunities. However, I would be lying if I told you it was 100% safe at all times. Nowhere is safe all the time. 

Sure, colleges have security guards, campus police, and emergency phones, but now that you are going to college you are an adult. It is up to you, as an adult, to be responsible for your safety and well-being. Though there are a lot of opportunities, there are also a lot of dangers. Here are some of the possible dangers you may encounter, and how to prepare yourself for them.  

Alcohol

For a lot of incoming first year students, college is the first time that they try alcohol or get drunk. With that being said, a lot of students coming into college do not know their limits or know what to expect. There is a reason the legal drinking age is 21 and that is individuals younger than that tend to have worse judgment.

If you are of legal age and you do plan on drinking, do so in moderation. Have people with you so that you are not alone, especially if you plan on going out. Have a plan on how to get back to your dorms or apartments, even if that plan is walking together or designating someone to be the sober driver. 

Last but not least, know your limit. When I was a first year college student, two of the girls in my dorm got alcohol poisoning and needed to go to the hospital. This is a scary experience even if you’re not the one who is poisoned, so I advise you to take it easy and not to drink too much.

Walking Alone

You will be here at some point. Whether you lost your friends, or are walking home after a night class by yourself, you will have to walk alone through campus. This can be scary especially if you have a long distance to travel. When I had to walk home alone after my night class, I would always call my dad. That way, he could hear if anything happened (though nothing ever did). 

If you are in this position, be aware of your surroundings. Walk with your head up and on a swivel. If you are scared, call someone and talk to them until you make it home. 
Most schools offer campus security that will walk with you. Take advantage of this service if you are nervous about going alone.  

Parties

Parties are an opportunity to meet people and have fun, but there are some risks involved. There will be people you don’t know, alcohol, and possibly drugs. This is why it's important to go with a group of people you know, and to be aware of your surroundings. 

Don’t drink anything unless you are sure of what it is. To be safest, bring your own drinks or only drink from containers not a communal punch bowl. 

Don’t let fear hold you back from meeting people and having fun. Just be smart and don’t let things get out of control. 

Sexual Assault

The recent Stanford rape case has brought this issue to the forefront of the media. This isn’t something to be taken lightly, and both men and women need to be aware at all times. 

While college campuses are generally safe places, sexual assault does happen and students need to be aware of how to stay safe. Seven assaults were reported in October last year at my university, and who knows how many went unreported. 

Most incidences of sexual assault happen within or near the victims home, often by a person they know. For college students alcohol and drug use are frequently reported with an incidence of sexual assault. 

This might sound scary, but that’s because it is. I beg both men and women to understand the definition of consent. No means no, and if alcohol is involved a man or woman cannot give consent in the eyes of the law.

Be Prepared

Any educational institution that accepts federal funding is required by law to report incidents of crime as well as security and punishment procedures. If this is an area that concerns you, ask the school for a copy of their report and procedures.

You can also use sources such as College Factual to look up this information. Visit the Crime page on the university's profile at College Factual

Be aware that some schools may appear to have high incidents of crime, but the fact may be that the school is just more effective at cracking down and reporting crime. The number itself can't give you the whole picture without also knowing the school's policies.

College is a fun time, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. You are an adult now, and with being an adult you must learn to look out for yourself and your safety. If you keep a good head on your shoulders and keep these tips in mind, you will be most likely be safe on campus, I promise. 

References used:

  • Enlighten Me: https://enlightenme.com/campus-safety-statistics/ 
  • RAINN.Org - https://www.rainn.org/statistics/scope-problem