During September and October, U Chic will be running some great articles (i.e. oldies but goodies from our archives) as a part of our “Best of” Freshman series. Each one will focus on a specific topic designed to ease you into college life, while preparing you for your first year away from home. This week, we’re zeroing in on staying safe on campus, and what you can do to decrease you chances of becoming a victim.
This year, National Campus Safety Month just happens to coincide with a record number of school incidents. Assaults. Murders. Rapes. They’re happening everywhere and they could happen to you. How can you ensure that you remain safe? Here’s five tips to live by:
1: Remain Alert
It sounds simple, but what it really means is don’t let your guard down. Whether you’re in class, or at a bar with your friends, you NEED to be aware of your surroundings at all times. Never take the same route to class every day. Alternate your schedule whenever you can. And if you have to walk across campus at night, well, DON’T. Use campus mass transit whenever you can and don’t be afraid to request a security escort if you need to walk to your car after dark, or find yourself studying late at night far away from the dorms.
2: Memorize Your Escape Routes
You know how the flight attendants always tell you to note your exit when you’re flying? You need to do the same thing for the dorms and your classes. Nothing highlights this better than the murders at Virgina Tech or the dorm fire several years ago at Seton Hall University. Many students were killed or seriously injured when they became trapped in their rooms or classes. Note your exits and develop an exit strategy BEFORE an emergency occurs. Does your dorm have two exits? How close/far are you from each? Does your classroom have windows that could allow you to slip out? These are all important considerations you should weigh prior to an incident.
3. Create a Phone Tree
There should never be any reason that your friends don’t know where you are at ALL times. Checking in shouldn’t be an afterthought – it should be necessity. Too many times, a coed will meet a guy at a bar or party, go off alone with him, and then by the time anyone notices she’s gone, it’s already too late. Create a phone tree with your friends and rotate a check-in person whenever you go out. Much like a designated driver, this person is in charge or keeping track of where everyone is throughout the evening, and routing someone to help out if someone is too drunk to drive or is in a scary situation and needs assistance.
4. Know How to Defend Yourself
Do you know what to do if somebody grabs your from behind? What about if someone tries to force you into a car? You should be able to react in these situations by INSTINCT ALONE. Sign up for a self defense class with your friends and practice some basic techniques until you have them nailed down and can do them without thinking. If you find yourself in a bad situation and you end up blanking, RUN and YELL. Every self defense expert will tell you that a moving, yelling target is the last thing a stalker/rapist wants to deal with. Never get into a car even if they have a weapon, and always make sure your phone is charged before you go out since all new cell phones have built-in GPS systems that police can use to track your movements if you’re taken against your will.
5. Put Campus Security on Speed Dial
There is no such thing as being too careful. If you feel uncomfortable, or suspect someone is somewhere they don’t belong, CALL. That’s what camous security is there for! Even if you’re wrong, it’s better to be safe and sorry. Program your campus security office into your cell phone so you have it all times. Besides, keeping your campus safe is a joint venture. Your school can’t protect you if you’re not prepared to take the necessary actions to protect yourself.