Millions of students will head back to to campus this fall to begin the college year. Between classes, keggers and sporting events, it’s easy to forget that college students are one of the easiest targets for crime and sexual assault. While most colleges make safety a top priority, there are a few tips you can follow to improve your personal safety on campus and still have the full college experience.
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Use the Amenities Provided By the School
Every college campus has a security office and you should familiarize yourself with its location and the programs it offers to students and faculty. From downloading campus maps with suggested safety routes and using the emergency phone system on campus to taking advantage of the late-night escort services, you need to be prepared for the times you end up out late at night or happen to find yourself in a scary situation.
Power in Numbers
It might sound trite, but it’s always safer to be with a group when walking around campus and the surrounding neighborhood at night or in the early morning. People walking alone are easy targets for crimes of opportunity. Stay safe and get someone to walk you to and from your car or dorm room whenever possible.
It’s easy to get caught up listening to Spotify or checking Facebook on your phone, but don’t let it interfere with your safety. Avoid possibly dangerous situations by turning down the volume and staying aware of your surroundings and keep your fancy electronics out of sight as much as possible.
Invest in Self-defense Items
It’s always a good idea to have pepper spray on hand, even if you’re out in a group. Pepper spray comes in all shapes and sizes and can be carried in your hand, pocket and purse or on a key ring. If you’re out walking, you should always have it within easy reach. Test it out (away from innocent bystanders) after you purchase it to make sure the canister works.
Know Your Limits
Sexual assault is the most prevalent crime across college campuses in the United States. One in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted during their college education and someone the victim knows will perpetrate the vast majority of those assaults. College-aged students often tend to go overboard when drinking at bars or parties. It’s important to know your limits and to have friends who will watch out for you if you happen to over-imbibe. If you are out and the rest of your group is calling it a night, you should too. Do not allow yourself to be put in a possibly dangerous situation, and never feel guilty for saying no and excusing yourself from anything that makes you uncomfortable.