College Safety Tips
By Kathy Marlor
When you move away from home to attend college whether you”ll be staying on or off campus, there are plenty of basic precautions you should know about and take to be safe. You can use this list for reference and to help you stay smarter and safer while off at school having a great time.
If you live locally, in the Tampa Bay area, consider attending a College Safety and Self Defense Seminar, or hosting an event/party for yourself and your friends.
Dorm Room Safety & Security
Make sure the door to your “hall” is locked and don’t let unknown people in. This may be tough because you don’t want to look like a jerk for not allowing someone to come in, but it could be the “wrong” person and they should have a key or know the lock code.
Always lock doors when you are absent. Do not loan out your key /give out your lock code and have locks changed immediately when a key is lost or stolen.
Always lock your doors and your windows at night if you’re on the 1st AND 2nd floor. Never leave a door unlocked for your roommate as your safety is more important than their convenience.
Open your door only when you know who is on the other side and you “know” them. Room doors should be equipped with peep holes so you can see who is there.
Keep your valuables locked up and protected. It’s not always your roommate you have to worry about, but other people that they may bring over.
Have an agreement with your roommate about rules for who comes over, what time they leave, etc; Discourage them from bringing back people they just met at a party for example and encourage them to get to know them in a public place.
Consider using a door alarm in your dorm room when you go to bed for the night. There are inexpensive alarms that are door stops or can be hung on the door knob itself.
Report suspicious activity to campus police–or to the police if you live off-campus.
Campus Safety and Security
Share your class and activity schedule with close friends and family so they know where you should be.
Use confidence and assertive behavior no matter where you are, to NOT look like an easy target, especially when alone.
When you go out, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to come back.
Find out the best route between your residence hall, classes and activities. Take the safest route, not the fastest.
Keep an eye on your property and resist the urge to leave your laptop, tablet, ipod, etc; alone for even a minute in the library, cafe, etc; you’d be surprised how quickly they can disappear. Set your cell so that it locks automatically after use to keep anyone who may steal it from using it or from getting your personal info-like credit card numbers and bank accounts. Consider using a tracking app in case your phone comes up missing to find it.
Always pay attention to your surroundings and listen to any bad feelings you may have. If something or doesn’t seem right…it’s probably not. If your gut tells you to stay away from someone, listen; if you feel like you shouldn’t be going where you are-don’t.
Stay alert when walking alone-especially at night or during non-crowded hours. Keep your keys or your cell in your hand ready to use; however avoid texting and walking, wearing ear buds with music blaring or doing anything else that prevents you from paying attention to your surroundings and using your sense of vision and hearing.
Avoid using the stairs by yourself during hours when there isn’t a lot of campus foot traffic if enclosed or secluded. When using the elevator, if you get a creepy feeling by someone who is already in it, or is coming towards it, exit and move away to where other people are. You don’t have to ride with that person and you can simply excuse yourself or act as if you forgot something and walk away.
Know where the emergency telephones are located on campus, just in case you need to use one.
Visit your college or university’s security office. Ask questions and review the information you likely received at orientation. Laws require colleges and universities to automatically provide current students and staff with basic campus crime statistics and security.
Personal Safety and Dating in College
You should know: Alcohol and/or drugs are involved in 90 percent of overall college campus crimes.
It’s estimated that 90% of college sexual assaults are committed by classmates, boyfriends, ex-boyfriends and other acquaintances and are considered “date rape.”
According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services as many as 25% of women in college have had an attempted rape or have been raped since age 14. Women ages 16-24 are at 4 times greater risk for rape than the assault rate of all other women-making college and high school years the most vulnerable.
Because of this: Be responsible for your actions and stay in control. Don’t get drunk at a party and ask a stranger to drive you home, for example.
If you are at a party, watch your drink to make sure that no one has put anything in it be it soda or something else.
Stay together with one of more of your friends and avoid the temptation to leave your group and go off with the new romantic interest that you’ve met. Get to know that person in a public place.
Walk with a friend or grab a cab home instead of walking alone.
Make your own choices and stick with them. Don’t get talked into doing something you don’t want to do.
Trust your feelings. If a person seems threatening to you, don’t continue the friendship. If you have continued issues with them, talk to campus security of the resource office.
Learn ways to set strong verbal boundaries with others and to defend yourself in the case of an attack.
In case of a robbery, give up your items especially when a weapon is involved . Those can be replaced, you cannot.
Don’t allow yourself to be taken by car to a different location. If someone wants you to get in or to drive you somewhere else- scream, run and fight like heck, but do not go. There is a very good chance that you won’t come back in one piece if you go.
If you carry a weapon for defense like pepper spray, a taser, a personal alarm, etc; practice using it. If you ever need it, you’ll first have to get it ready; then use it accurately while feeling fear and adrenaline. Without practice, this can prove challenging.
Basic Dating Tips
Tell at least one person where you’re going and who you’re going to be with and consider leaving that persons phone number on a note by your desk or their profile open on Facebook.
Meet for the first few dates in a public place as you get to know the person. Remember, just because your “Facebook friends” doesn’t mean that you really know them.
Go with your “gut”. If you don’t like the “vibes” your getting, don’t see them again.
Don’t disclose too much about yourself too soon, like your school schedule, exactly where you live, what car you drive, etc; until your positive you’re with someone you’d like to date for a while. Anyone else, doesn’t need that info.
Have an exit plan for your dates: Always have a charged-up cell phone, enough money for a cab or to pay your own way- in case you decide that your date is not for you or if they behave inappropriately. Nothing is worse than feeling “stuck” in a bad situation or having to rely on someone else that you don’t want to be with or you feel could be a “danger” to you or others.
Always make sure you have plenty of gas and don’t run the risk of running out.
Keep a flashlight, a cell phone charger, jumper cables and a first aid kit in your car….just in case.
Even though you think you know where you’re going and could rely on your phone’s navigation app, print out or review directions online before you leave to avoid getting lost and ending up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
If you break down, especially after dark, call AAA or a trusted friend to help you. Turn on your emergency flashers and if possible, make sure your car is out of harm’s way where other cars will not hit it. If it’s safe to stay in your car without worrying about another car hitting you- lock the doors. Beware of anyone who approaches your vehicle with an offer to help unless it’s a police officer or a “road ranger.”
Follow these basic tips to stay safer while away from home and to have the “time of your life” at college.
If you’d like to host your own self-defense seminar for yourself and a group of 10 or more friends, please feel free to contact Kathy@Stpeteselfdefense.com.