College and university campuses tend to feel special and safe. But any campus is subject to the same influences – indeed, crimes – as the towns and cities around them. So it is important to be aware of your surroundings, the people near you, and the goings on in your physical spaces and virtual spaces at all times.
Learn about safety consciousness, indicators of school crime, and strategies for staying safe.
College and university campuses tend to have a special feel – so special that when you are on campus you may feel you are fully apart from the wider world around you. But the reality is that any campus is subject to the same influences – indeed, crimes – as the towns and cities that flank the campus. And so it is important to be aware of your surroundings, the people near you, and the goings on in your physical spaces and in your virtual spaces at all times.
Here we explore college safety concerns, and share tips and resources to help ensure that you are always safe, protected, and no more than a phone call away from help if you need it.
Safety consciousness is a term describing your awareness of hazards, and your alertness to potential danger. To have safety consciousness, you must value safety no matter where you are or what time of day it is.
Your college or university must also be safety conscious – by choice and by law. In 1990, the U.S. Congress enacted the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act, which required all schools that receive federal student aid to share information about crime on and around their campuses. The act is now generally just referred to as the Clery Act, in memory of Jeanne Clery, a student killed in her dorm room in 1986.
What does the Clery Act require your college to do? If your college is receiving federal student aid, here are the major legal requirements it must comply with:
This valuable set of requirements is important for every student to be aware of. It is readily available to you and your family. You do not need to be a student to access this information about any school.
The following video, from the National Center for Education Statistics, gives statistical details about safety and crimes on campus. You can visit the organization’s Web site to view the full related report and learn more about crime and safety in America’s schools and colleges.
One of the best strategies for staying safe on campus and beyond is to ask questions. Take the initiative to learn more about your college surroundings, the community culture, and safety precautions we advise you to implement.
Here are some questions you can ask to open up important conversations about campus and community safety.
|1||How is the college creating a safe environment for all faculty, staff, and students?||Your concern about a safe environment on campus and in the surrounding communities is a consumer concern as much as a learner concern. As you and your college make safety a shared priority, awareness builds and safety measures expand, which creates a safer space for you to learn in. Measures can be extensive. Ask for specifics.|
|2||What communication procedures are in place for emergencies?||Many colleges and universities send emergency phone messages, email messages and text messages to all students, staff, faculty, administrators, board of trustees members, etc. Institutions may have sirens and alarms. Signage on campus may be used for alerts, along with other measures.|
|3||Can you tell me about campus police and security personnel, and how they coordinate with local police?||Your campus should have a full contingent of campus police and security personnel who coordinate closely with local police as and when needed.|
|4||How are sexual assaults on campus handled?||Does the college handle investigations or do local authorities handle investigations? Who should you complain to if you have a problem? What confidentialities are in place?|
|5||How do students learn about safety on campus?||Many institutions provide students with classes that help them learn how to intervene as bystanders in altercations. Some courses give students advice about other safety measures. You can encourage your institution to offer workshops or other learning opportunities if it doesn’t already offer them.|
|6||What measures are in place for protecting students who live off-campus?||Some schools help students find safe housing off campus. Your school might have an off-campus housing department.|
|7||To what degree do alcohol and drug abuse pose issues on campus? How are violations handled?||One of the best sources of information about drugs and alcohol on campus is fellow students. You can find information about violations in the annual security report.|
The following video focuses on how to stay safe when on campus. The interviewee, David Nance, sheds light on overlooked areas and situations where students are vulnerable.
One of the best safety measures you can take at any time is to keep emergency numbers handy, on your phone or in your wallet or backpack or a place where you can easily access them. You may also find it helpful to have a safety app on your mobile device. Consider downloading any of the following free apps.
|MOBILE DEVICE SAFETY APPLICATIONS|
|bSafe is a personal safety app designed to keep you and your friends safer 24/7. It has features for everyday safety and real emergencies. You can set up your own personal social safety network.|
|Circle of 6 U is built specifically for colleges and schools, connecting students to each other and to critical resources on specific campuses. The tool lets you choose up to 6 trusted friends to add to your circle, so that if you get into an uncomfortable or risky situation, with two taps you send your circle a pre-programmed SMS alert message indicating your exact location.|
|OnWatchOnCampus: With just 2 taps, your friends and emergency first responders are alerted to your GPS location and that you need help.|
|React Mobile: Users can quickly send out a widespread emergency alert without having to access and unlock their phone. You choose which contacts you would like to share your location with. Then your contact list can be sent an email and a text message with a link to your GPS location. You can also send an “SOS Help Me” message to an unlimited number of buddies.|
|Watch Over Me: This tool turns your mobile device into emergency tool with just a shake, even if your phone is locked. The shake turns on your phone’s alarm and video camera, and sends an alert to your emergency contacts.|
Answer the question(s) below to see how well you understand the topics covered in the section. This short quiz does not count toward your grade, and you can retake it an unlimited number of times.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. (For video licensing information, refer to each video's YouTube page.)