10 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR CAMPUS SAFETY
September 4, 2018
It is back to school time! Going to college can be challenging, exciting, and stressful. Navigating class schedules and maybe a new city as well as the general college social scene are overwhelming at times. We all want to make a good impression to make new friends and reconnect with old ones, often finding ourselves in group settings that can quickly turn into a dangerous situation especially when alcohol or drugs are involved.
Make no mistake, rape culture is real. Many national statistics show us one of the most dangerous times of the year for young women is September through November because that is the time sexual predators usually act with the least amount of restraint on college campuses. Incoming freshmen ladies are often referred to as something less than human such as "fresh meat" by older male students and returning female students are often targeted as easy prey at parties. No matter what time of year it is, being prepared is the key to survival. Here are 10 simple ways to help keep yourself safe on campus:
1. HAVE A PRE-GAME PARTY PLAN
Just like having a designated driver before heading out to a party, it is a wise idea to have a plan of action and a Sober Sentry who will act as a point of contact for the group and get everyone together to leave at the designated time. Anyone changing plans for the evening checks in with the Sober Sentry.
2. TRAVEL IN GROUPS
Travelling in groups is the safest way to get to your destination safely. Although it is not always possible groups of three or more are ideal for walking across campus late at night, in dark areas, or places that are high-risk areas like parking garages, alleys, or poorly lit trails. Like to run? Take a buddy with you. It will make your run more enjoyable and safer.
3. KEEP YOUR PHONE CHARGED
This one seems so simple yet how many times do you find yourself with a drained battery? Keep your phone charged at all times and keep a battery backup charger in your purse or backpack. Many chargers are inexpensive and small enough to fit in your pocket.
4. ASSESS YOUR OPTIONS
Look around you. Even if you have been to an area a hundred times and are familiar with it, scan the area for anything out of place. The more times you do this the easier it is for your brain to pick out anomalies and trigger you to take notice. Assess all your options for a quick exit no matter where you are by locating your paths of least resistance. A path of least resistance is the easiest one you can take whether it is running out a door, into a crowded area, going down a fire escape, or even climbing over a guardrail into a parking lot full of people. Always trust your instincts and listen to your gut - if you feel something isn't right about a situation, then leave.
5. PREPARE TO LEAVE
Take just a moment to put your keys in your hand before going to your door or your car so you aren't stuck being distracted by digging through a purse or backpack. It takes just a moment to stop at a door and take a breath, check your belongings, and put your keys in hand for quick efficient entry to your car or door.
6. PUT THE PHONE DOWN
Take a moment to put your phone away in a pocket or purse and take your earbuds out. Distraction is the easiest way someone can attack you without your notice. Being distracted also takes away your ability to get clear identifying information about your attacker.
7. STRANGER DANGER IS REAL
Social media tells us we have many friends. The truth of the matter is most people are strangers, even if you have had several classes with them. Seeing someone socially or in a group setting repeatedly does not make someone a friend. Seeing someone post status updates and funny things online also does not make someone a friend, even if you have been following them for years. Most people fall into the "acquaintance" category and need to be viewed as such. Many a predator will use social settings to get close enough to a victim to get her barriers to fall quickly, allowing closer access to her schedule and personal habits.
8. YOUR ID CARD
Many campuses now have automatic entry when an ID card is swiped or placed in front of the sensor. Keep tabs on your ID card. Don't lend it to anyone to gain access to your dorm.
9. CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE OFTEN
Simple steps like parking in different spots, leaving or arriving home at different times, and taking different routes home will keep your daily routine fresh and make it more difficult to pinpoint where you will be at any given time of day.
10. LOCATION IS KEY
Many campuses now have emergency call boxes and offer escorts to your dorm or vehicle. Locate your campus safety or campus police office early. Don't wait until something happens and you need help. Program their phone number and any other emergency numbers into your phone as soon as you can. Be familiar with the locations of the emergency call boxes and know how to get to one no matter where you are on campus.
These are only 10 simple steps anyone can take to remain safe in unfamiliar and social situations. For more information about personal safety and training options, talk to us about getting a D.A.N.C.E. program brought to your college campus or community.