The Ultimate Guide to Campus Safety
Going off to university is an exciting time for many first-year students. Many have never been away from home, and are looking forward to their newfound independence. Unfortunately, freshmen are especially vulnerable to college violence and bullying because they have yet to shed the security blanket of their protective parents. Follow these simple steps to ensure your safety, on and off campus.
1. Stay close
You might be tempted to go exploring on your own, but curb it until you are better familiar with your surroundings. Keep close to home, especially after dark, and always go around the campus with a group of people. If you have a roommate, make sure you know how to get in touch and always make it a point to leave word of where you are going. Make yourself as inaccessible as a target as you can be until you have figured out how the system on campus works.
2. Keep valuables out of sight
Avoid using your smartphone while on the bus or walking along the street. It makes you an easy and distracted target for thieves on the roam. Your laptop is another thief magnet; keep it with you at all times while in public areas.
3. Have whistle handy
You will be surprised at how easily a thief or would-be attacker gets startled and run away when you use a whistle on them. Pepper spray or mace may seem more to the point, but it is not always legal, and you might end up spraying yourself in the face instead! A whistle is your best deterrent option. Keep it strapped around your neck or in an easily accessible pocket, not in your backpack.
4. Keep to the light
Avoid dark streets and always wait in well-lit bus stops. If you have to pass through an unsafe area alone (or if you are a little tipsy or not very clear in the head) call for campus security to give you a lift or at least walk with you to a safe area. You might feel silly about doing it, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
5. Learn a few moves
Most universities offer classes on self-defense. Take advantage of it to learn a few moves that can help you get away from an assailant. If there is none, there are always online tutorials. Practice with a friend so that you get it right when you need to.
6. Find a few handy apps
Since you always have your smartphone with you anyway, you can use it to help you in an emergency using some nifty apps. A good one is bSafe, which is a free app you can use to trigger a siren and set up two emergency contacts that you can call by pressing a single button. This action also starts recording audio and video. You can set it up to track your location via GPS or notify selected contacts if you fail to check in as scheduled. bSafe can also arrange fake calls at prescribed times, in case you want out of a boring date, which is another kind of emergency.
7. Keep your personal life personal
Social networking sites are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family as well as widen your social circle on campus. However, you have to be careful about giving out information about yourself. You could be making yourself a target for identity thieves, or worse. Always be wary of what you share online.
Campus safety is largely a matter of using your commonsense. Use your head when it comes to protecting yourself, and you will always look back to your time on campus with fondness, and not a shudder.