College life is an exciting and transformative period for many young individuals as they embark on their journey toward higher education.
However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that safety and security concerns can arise in college environments, requiring proactive measures to ensure students’ well-being and peace of mind.
Many crimes can be prevented by taking certain precautions and following helpful tips.
Learn how you can stay safe in your college dorm, things to avoid on college campuses, and what you should do if you are a victim of a crime on a college campus.
What to do to stay safe on a college campus?
Promoting students’ awareness of potential risks and ensuring access to safety resources are integral to college readiness.
While none of these tips can guarantee safety, let your student know that these are best practices for avoiding unsafe situations on their college campus.
Lock your doors
Always lock your dorm room door when you leave, even if you just step out briefly.
This applies to both when you’re inside the room and when you’re leaving.
Use a peephole
If your dorm room has a peephole, use it to verify who is at the door before opening it.
If you don’t have a peephole, consider installing a door viewer or using a security camera like Blink or Ring.
Don’t prop doors open
Avoid propping exterior doors or letting strangers into the dormitory building.
This helps maintain the security of the building and reduces the risk of unauthorized access.
Get to know your neighbors
Build good relationships with your dorm neighbors.
They can look out for you and your belongings and inform you if they notice anything suspicious.
Safeguard your personal belongings
Keep your valuables, such as laptops, wallets, and jewelry, in a secure place when you’re not using them.
Consider using a lockbox or a small safe in your dorm room.
Be cautious with visitors
Be mindful of who you invite into your dorm room. Avoid giving strangers or casual acquaintances access to your living space.
Meet visitors outside the dorm and escort them to your room.
Report maintenance issues
If you notice any broken locks, windows, or other security-related maintenance issues in your dorm building, promptly report them to the appropriate authorities.
Be aware of your surroundings
Stay alert and aware of your surroundings, especially when walking alone at night or in isolated areas. Request a campus security escort or use well-lit paths if you feel unsafe.
Additionally, remember the old adage—if you see something, say something. Use your best judgment but if someone or something looks suspicious, let campus security or administration know.
Use campus security resources
Familiarize yourself with the campus security resources, such as emergency phone stations, campus police, or security escorts.
Save important contact numbers in your phone.
Practice fire safety
Learn your dorm’s fire safety procedures and evacuation routes.
Avoid tampering with smoke detectors and fire alarms, and report any malfunctions immediately.
Trust your instincts
If something or someone feels off or makes you uncomfortable, trust your instincts and remove yourself from the situation. Sometimes it’s easy to give in to peer pressure or stay quiet for fear of judgment. But your gut feeling can save you trouble and should be listened to.
It’s better to prioritize your safety and seek help if necessary.
Use the buddy system
Go out of your way to make friends—that’s part of the joy of going away to college! Stick together. Before engaging in different activities, establish a meeting point and time to regroup.
Maintain open communication and establish ground rules about how you will look out for one another.
Let someone know when you’re going out with a new person or to a new place. Smartphones have the option to share your location with people you know, consider this option when going out.
Things to avoid on a college campus
Walking alone at night
Avoid walking alone in poorly lit or secluded areas, especially during late hours.
Use well-lit pathways, travel in groups whenever possible, and utilize campus security escort services.
Ignoring safety precautions
Take safety measures such as locking your dorm room or vehicle, properly securing your belongings, and adhering to campus safety protocols.
Engaging in risky behavior
Avoid participating in activities that risk your well-being or violate campus policies.
This includes excessive alcohol consumption, drug use, reckless driving, or engaging in dangerous stunts.
Neglecting personal safety devices
Don’t leave behind your safety devices, such as whistles, pepper spray, or personal alarms.
Leaving belongings unattended
Avoid leaving your personal belongings unattended, whether in the library, common areas, or cafeteria.
Always watch your belongings or ask a trusted friend to watch them if you need to step away.
Neglecting mental and physical health
Safety from other people is one thing but you also need to take measures to protect yourself. Prioritize your mental and physical well-being. Avoid excessive stress, lack of sleep, and neglecting self-care.
Seek support from campus counseling services or healthcare facilities if needed.
Ignoring emergency preparedness
Familiarize yourself with emergency evacuation plans, fire alarm locations, and other safety procedures for your college campus.
Take the time to participate in drills and understand how to respond in different emergency scenarios.
Overlooking campus resources
Take advantage of your college or university’s safety resources and support services.
These may include campus police, emergency call boxes, self-defense classes, or safety workshops. Stay informed about available resources and how to access them when needed.
Respect personal boundaries and consent. Always seek and convey explicit consent before engaging in any physical or intimate activities.
Be aware of your own boundaries and communicate them clearly.
Maintain open lines of communication with trusted friends, roommates, or family members. Inform them of your whereabouts, especially when alone or in unfamiliar places.
Stay connected and let someone know if you feel unsafe or need assistance.
What should you do if you are a victim of a crime on a college campus?
- Take immediate action following a crime
- Remove yourself from immediate danger
- Find a safe place. For example, in the unfortunate event of an active shooter situation, law enforcement recommends running first, finding a place to hide, and as a last resort—fighting.
- Contact campus security or local law enforcement
- Seek medical attention promptly for any injuries. Contact campus health services or go to the nearest hospital or urgent care.
- Preserve any evidence related to the crime. Do not alter or clean the crime scene if applicable.
- Contact campus support services, such as counseling centers or victim advocacy organizations, for emotional support or guidance.
Make your college experience the best with a college planner
Going to college is an exciting time in a young person’s life, especially if they’re living away from home for the first time. Being nervous is a natural reaction but students don’t need to live in fear.
By practicing emergency preparedness, students should feel capable and confident on their college campus.
To help everyone adjust to the transition, consult with a college planner! When you reach out to teachers, counselors, academic advisors, and college planning specialists, you’ll learn how to find schools, apply for schools, and what to expect on a college campus.
At College Benefits Research Group, we help students prepare for their academic future and give them peace of mind.
We provide a diverse range of workshops covering various college-related topics, such as how to get into their dream college, financial assistance opportunities, and effectively planning their college journey.