Staying Safe on Campus

College is full of freedom. When you head off to school, you enter a whole new world that allows you to decide how late you want to stay out, where you want to go, how you want to spend your time, and who you want to spend that time with. You can, of course, choose how you spend your time in school, but no matter what kinds of activities you’re involved in outside of classes, personal safety is something you should give some consideration to.

No matter how safe a particular campus in, most colleges and universities have faced their share of burglaries, thefts, and assaults. The good news is that most schools are taking a vested interest in keeping their students safe and have a variety of systems in place to make sure students have options and can stay secure and unharmed. However, even though your school might be active in keeping campus safe, that doesn’t mean you can simply rest on your laurels and stop paying attention. Here are some helpful tips to make sure both you and your friends stay safe on campus.

1. Don’t be afraid to speak up

If you sense something is out of the ordinary—whether you’re at a party, walking on campus, or alone in your dorm room—don’t be afraid to speak up. Verbal commands and exclamations can be incredibly compelling, and they can alert bystanders that something may be wrong. Even if you feel a little silly calling out or being loud, it’s completely worth it to ensure your safety.

It’s a good idea to save Campus Security’s phone number in your contacts on your cell phone when you move to campus. That way, if you sense someone following you, or there’s some dangerous stuff happening at dorm party, you’ll know exactly who to call and how to get ahold of them quickly.

2. Don’t walk alone

No, this doesn’t mean that you literally need someone by your side at all times while walking on campus—although, we applaud you if you can figure out how to do that. What it does mean is do your best to walk places with a roommate, friend, or classmate, but in the event that no one’s available, at least let someone know where you’re leaving from, where you’re going, and when they can expect you back. If you’re walking somewhere at night, it’s a good idea to shoot said friend a quick text letting them know you got there safely. While it’s tempting to take that quick jaunt down to the library by yourself at night without telling anyone, resist the urge to slip away quietly. It might save your life! Most Campus Security offices will provide escorts or rides to campus buildings, so take advantage of that service and don’t go alone.

The same goes for running by yourself—try your best not to run in secluded parks or long distances without at least checking in with someone. This means making sure your phone is charged and having a friend who’s willing to jump in the car and find you if they don’t hear from you for hours on end.

3. Know how to defend yourself

Keeping some safety supplies on hand, like pepper spray or mace, can go a long way in helping you feel more protected. It’s not a bad idea to consider taking some self-defense classes as well. Not only will you learn how to physically defend yourself in case of an attack, but you’ll probably learn some helpful awareness tactics that you might not have thought about if you hadn’t taken the time to properly educate yourself.

4. Be careful with your online privacy

It’s a good idea to keep tabs on who exactly you’re allowing to see your photos and statuses on social media. Geotagging your photos is probably not the best idea if you’re alone, as it immediately lets people know where you are.

Regularly review your privacy settings, as things change, and consider unfriending people you don’t really know or don’t need to keep in touch with anymore. Also keep in mind that once you post something to the Internet, it’s pretty tough to remove it entirely. Being wise with your words and posts can really help keep you safe in the real world.