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.
Safety Consciousness on Campus and in College
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:
- Have emergency notification and evacuation procedures for alerting the campus community about significant emergencies or dangerous situations. Disclose your policies and procedures in the annual security report.
- Issue timely warnings to alert the campus community about crimes that pose a serious or continuing threat to safety. Disclose your policy in the annual security report.
- Keep a crime log that records, by date reported, all crimes reported to the campus police or security department.
- Keep a fire log that records by date reported, all fires in on-campus student housing facilities.
- Collect crime reports from campus security authorities within the institution".
- Request crime statistics from local law enforcement in the jurisdiction where the institution is located.
- Submit crime and fire statistics to the Department of Education via a Web-based data collection.
- Have missing-student notification procedures to aid in determining if a student is missing, and in notifying law enforcement personnel. Disclose your policy and procedures in the annual security report.
- Publish an annual security report containing campus security policy disclosures and crime statistics for the previous three years.
- Publish an annual fire-safety report containing policy disclosures and fire statistics for on-campus student housing facilities for the previous three years.
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.
Indicators of School Crime and Safety
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.
Strategies for Staying Safe
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 the 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.|
Tips for Staying Safe
Walking, Driving, and Traveling:
- Travel with a buddy.
- Use the campus escort service at night, especially if you are alone.
- If you live off-campus, call someone when you get home.
- Keep moving; do not linger (especially at night).
- Carry pepper spray or pepper gel.
- Keep a personal alarm (for example, on a keychain).
- If you have a car, lock it.
- Keep your windows and doors locked.
- Keep the main door to your home, hall, or apartment building locked at all times.
- Do not let anyone into your dwelling that you do not know.
- Keep a close eye on your belongings when you are in a library.
- Get a locking device for your laptop.
- Participate in a college safety program.
- Be cautious, not paranoid.
- Make sure your phone is charged.
- Know the phone number for Campus Safety.
- Put emergency numbers in your cell phone.
- Carry emergency cash.
- Speak up if you notice something going on.
Take advantage of campus and community resources, which may include any of the following:
- Websites, offices, organizations, and individuals with safety information;
- Campus police and campus security;
- Local police;
- Sexual assault and relationship-violence services;
- Shuttle services;
- Escort services;
- Counseling programs;
- Mental health programs;
- Substance abuse programs;
- Local health care centers;
- Campus abuse hotlines.
Most colleges have campus security alert systems to help you walk around campus safely. The following video offers tips for being safe in an urban environment. Advice includes always being aware of your surroundings, avoiding walking alone, and maintaining safety in numbers.
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 in 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 phones. 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 an 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.|
Check Your Understanding
Answer these questions 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.
- Jones, Ruth. "College Crimes & Sexual Assault". Affordable Colleges Online. 2016. Web. 22 Feb 2016.
- Boyington, Briana. "10 Questions Every Parent, Student Should Ask About Campus Safety". U.S. News and World Report Education. 9 Sept 2014. Web. 22 Feb 2016.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. (For video licensing information, refer to each video's YouTube page.)