17 Tips for Staying Safe on Campus

By Patricia Gorden Neill - June 13th, 2013

While crime on campuses around the nation has declined in recent years, staying safe on campus remains an important consideration for most students. Property crimes far outweigh violent crimes on nearly all college campuses, with more burglary than robbery so caution and common sense still hold their traditional value in terms of self-protection. These days, more awareness of campus crimes, more training for campus police and more video cameras combine to keep campus crimes in check. Still, using your common sense will guide you through most of the colleges’ recommendations to students regarding staying safe on campus.

You know how it goes: keep your doors and windows locked. Lock your car. Stay alert when you’re alone or walking around on campus. Use the buddy system when exercising, jogging, walking and going out to parties. Always let your friends know where you are going and when you’ll be back. Walk only in well-lit areas and avoid shrubbery, undergrowth, hedges or any place where assailants could hide. Don’t walk or jog at night. Avoid athletic facilities at night. Using basic common sense will ensure that you do the most obvious things concerning your safety. Other than common sense, here’s some tips on staying safe on campus that will come in handy.

  • Keep an eye out on your belongings wherever you are. If you’re at the library, keep your laptop, phone and material with you at all times. If you have to take a bathroom break, take your things with you.
  • Keep doors and windows locked at all times, even when you’re heading down the hall for a shower.
  • Don’t let anyone into your residence hall that you don’t know. Ask to see ID or call dorm mates to see if someone is expected. Use the peephole if there is one. Don’t open the door to a stranger, ask them to identify themselves first.
  • Keep close guard on your room keys. If you lose them, report it, get the locks changed and get new keys for you and your roommate.
  • Keep your car locked if you have one. Check on it occasionally to make sure it is OK, hasn’t been broken into and tires are inflated.
  • Get a lock for your laptop computer. Think of how much data you could lose if it was stolen. Protect your laptop with a lock or tracking device.
  • Load emergency phone numbers into your phone, including the number you need to cancel all credit cards if your wallet is stolen. Put the number of campus police in your phone so it’s on speed dial. Your college probably has a short list of important numbers for security, so load those into your phone as well.
  • Use the buddy system when going out at night, or to a party or to a study session in the library. When you walk or jog, go with a friend. Using the buddy system is always a good idea, one that can really help you stay safe.
  • Use the campus escort system if you do find yourself alone at night. Don’t be afraid to call them. They’re there to help you get home safe, so call.
  • Keep a working cell phone within reach at all times. You can call campus police, 911 or any other emergency number that can assist you.
  • Avoid being a victim. The more alert you are the better. Robbers and other predators look for people in a dream world or those wearing earphones or otherwise preoccupied. Stay alert, look around you and be aware of people and vehicles around you. Use your eyes and ears to scout danger.
  • Tell others where you are going and when you’ll be back. Do this discreetly. You want your roommate to know, not the whole world.
  • Trust your instincts. If you think you are being followed, don’t ignore that warning from your instincts. Get yourself to a safe environment as quick as you can. This can be a well-lit place or where groups of people are hanging out. Make a scene if you think you are in danger, scream, run, yell or honk your horn if you’re in the car. Predators look for daydreamers, small females and those they think will be easy victims. They’ll usually avoid the loud, noisy and troublesome.
  • The campus police are there to protect you. If you end up working alone in a lab, call and let them know you’re alone and that you’d like an escort back to your dorm.
  • Be very careful when going to parties, and be sure you go with friends. See AcademicInfo’s article on partying safely for more tips and hints.
  • If you see a stranger in your dorm, ask them who they are and if you can help them. Have them wait outside the dorm while you go and find the person they’re looking for. You’re not being a jerk when you do this, you’re making sure the whole building is safe. Don’t let a stranger make you feel guilty. They need to explain to you, not the other way around.
  • Many colleges offer self-defense classes and some have special self-defense classes for women. Take advantage of this and attend the class. Besides particular recommendations and actions you can take, there are physical moves you can learn. Get active in your own safety and learn a martial art.

About the Author

Patricia Gorden NeillPatricia Gorden Neill edited medical and scholarly journals for over 20 years in the ivy-covered halls of the University of Rochester. She is a freelance writer, often covering higher education and the concerns of college age students, and is regularly published on a variety of websites.