If you’re a college student, you may already be familiar with the frequent stories about campus assaults, both physical and sexual. Or, as a freshman, you may just have a general underlying concern about campus safety.
As we hear about campus sexual assaults and targeted mass shootings, it comes as no surprise that a feeling of fear has permeated these areas of life. And while these events might be occurring more and more often, life must go on, and you shouldn’t allow yourself to become overwhelmed by the mental anguish of unending fear. Rather than remaining fearful of the circumstances on American campuses, you should undertake preparations to keep yourself safe.
The only way to protect yourself—to remain safe while on campus—is to prepare yourself for whatever situation might arise. To any new or seasoned campus student, here are some of the best steps to prepare and protect yourself on campus while continuing with your studies unperturbed.
Lock Your Doors
One of the first ways to protect yourself against unwanted assailants is to make sure that the doors of your dorm, apartment, study room, or research laboratory are locked whether you are inside or on your way out.
You’ve probably heard a story about a drunk student walking into a dorm that isn’t his own following a party; this only happens when the person leaves their door unlocked.
To avoid a confrontation such as this, or any other potentially harmful scenario, you should make sure that your doors are locked at all times.
Locate Emergency Areas Around Campus
Most college campuses have emergency notification boxes that can be accessed at any time of day or night. These are located beneath well-lit areas and are often indicated by a yellow box and a bright, overhead blue light.
Accessing the phone at these locations allows a person to contact campus police, signifying their location and allowing them to make their safety concerns known. It is imperative that you know the general location of all of these boxes, as it will help you to stay safe and be able to readily contact campus police whenever necessary.
Know of Nearby Buildings That Are Open 24 Hours a Day
Similar to having knowledge of the emergency contact services around campus, it is smart to know which buildings are open 24/7.
Some buildings, particularly public buildings, usually close in the evening; however, buildings accessible only to students will usually remain open at all times, allowing students to access them whenever necessary.
Such buildings commonly include labs and libraries, and are notable places to be aware of. If you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation, entering into an area where other students and staff are likely to be is a safe decision.
Don’t Walk on Campus Alone at Night
Walking from your friend’s building to your own might seem trivial, but it can be dangerous during the night. It is difficult to ensure your safety at all times, and traveling through dark areas with little foot traffic or public buildings can leave you open to a possible assault.
Consider traveling with a friend at night to keep yourself safe. If you ever feel unsafe prior to leaving a building, consider reaching out to campus services—often they will have people available who are willing to safely escort you from one part of campus to another.
Carry Personal Self-Defense Items
Whether you’re heading to a party or walking to and from class, there is a benefit to keeping a non-lethal self-defense weapon on you at all times.
An item such as pepper spray can be easily stored in a bag, purse, or jacket and will allow you to have a line of defense on you wherever you go, giving you the opportunity to incapacitate and evade aggressors as needed.
Basic keychain weapons can also prove helpful, as they can be used to defend against an aggressor that you cannot stop by other means. Such an item can be stored right alongside your keys and accessed with ease, making your safety the first priority at all times.
Don’t Go to a Party by Yourself
If you’re ever heading to a party, always go with someone or a group of people you know. You never know the intentions of strangers at a party, and the last thing you want to do is be in a dangerous situation by yourself.
Being with a buddy or a group of friends is a helpful way of staying safe while heading to and from a party, along with having someone to keep an eye on you while at the event, ensuring you are protected against any unsavory characters who might attempt to make contact with you.
Drink and Party with Moderation
Just as you should have a buddy on-hand while at a party, you should also be aware of how much you’re drinking and consuming. While you are not to blame if you are a victim of sexual or physical assault, it is important that you make decisions that lessen the chances of such a thing happening—one of which is ensuring you do not become too drunk or inebriated in public.
Having your wits about you is imperative to keeping yourself safe, and becoming inebriated to the state where you are unable to take care of yourself is a bad decision. Consider keeping a friend nearby who can keep you in check, and consider doing the same for them.
Campus safety is all about preparation. Staying attentive while on campus is the best thing you can do for your overall safety. If you ever feel unsafe, consider reaching out to campus police, campus staff, or a friend. They can help more than you might think.
About Dave Artman: Dave is the Founder and CEO of The Home Security Superstore. Every month, he uses his expertise to produce content focused around the six important areas of personal well being: security, self-defense, surveillance, spy, safety and survival. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking and all things outdoors.