Safety on Campus

Safety on campus should not be overlooked. Despite what you may think, college campuses often attract crime. No need to worry, though. We'll tell you what you need to know to keep safe and avoid being the victim of crime.

General Tips on Crime Prevention

Prevent theft
You can make a thief's job significantly more difficult by obeying these guidelines: Lock your bike where there's heavy foot traffic. Always use a kryptonite-type lock. If you set down your purse or backpack, know where it is at all times. Never leave your belongings unattended.

Prevent burglary
Always keep the door to your apartment or dorm room locked. Dead bolts and other such safety lock devices provide added protection. Never let strangers inside your home. Do not leave spare keys under the doormat or in other obvious hiding places. Inscribe items of value with your driver's license number. 

Car Safety
Park in well-lighted areas close to foot traffic. Lock all doors and roll up windows when exiting your car and again after you enter your car. Never leave valuables in plain sight. Have your keys in hand when returning to your car at night and walk with someone if possible. If car jacked, surrender your vehicle immediately.

Some Common Campus Crimes

This one tops the list. Bicycles, backpacks, purses, and wallets are among the campus thief's favorite items to steal. Fortunately, you can protect your property by taking a few simple precautions.

Breaking into an apartment or dorm room to steal property is less common than straight theft. Still, burglary comprises a sizable chunk of campus crime.

Physical assault, one person inflicting bodily injury on another, is the least frequent of common campus crime. But statistics on sexual assault, including rape and acquaintance rape, are hard to interpret since these crimes go largely unreported. This suggests sexual assault is more frequent than police reports show.


Understanding Sex Crimes

What is sexual assault?
Sexual assault is defined as any sexual activity forced upon one person by another. Many victims fail to report sexual assault because they are not sure an "assault" has actually taken place, or they feel they are to blame. "NO" means "NO." If a person won't take "NO" for an answer then sexual assault has occurred.

Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment differs from sexual assault in that no one is physically abused. Depending on the circumstances, examples of harassment include: repeated and unwanted romantic advances, discussions of a sexual nature, abusive language aimed at a particular sex, the telling of lewd jokes, unwanted touching. You do not need to put up with anything that makes you uncomfortable.

Acquaintance rape
The overwhelming majority of rapes are perpetrated by someone the victim knows. Sexual abuse is never the victim's fault. But you can take steps to avoid being victimized. Clearly communicate what you want and don't want. Set your limits before you go on a date. Be aware of signals you may be sending.


What You Can Do to Prevent Sex Crimes

If you have questions
If you think you may be the victim of sexual assault or sexual harassment but are unsure, talk to a counselor who deals with such cases. Your campus medical facility or local hospital has trained professionals on staff who can help you understand what has happened.

Defuse a bad situation
If you find yourself in a situation where there is potential for sexual assault, you can use several tactics to dissuade your attacker:

  • Tell your attacker he is committing sexual harassment or sexual assault.

In more intense situations you should:

  • Scream and draw attention to yourself
  • Yell "NO" or "STOP" or even "FIRE!"
  • Run away if possible
  • Fight back using any means at your disposal


Be Aware, Keep Smart and Stay Safe

Common sense
This is perhaps your best protection against crime. Follow these basic rules: Don't walk alone at night and stick to well-lighted streets. Be aware of your surroundings, avoid having headphones in both ears while listening to a music device when walking. If you are being followed, walk fast to a populated area. Don't give your phone number or address to strangers.  

Prevent sexual assault
In addition to exercising the common sense rules mentioned above, you should always exercise caution when drinking. In most cases of sexual assault, especially acquaintance rape, drugs and/or alcohol were used by one or both people involved. If you drink, drink responsibly. Don't drink any drink that you did not buy yourself, and never leave your drink unattended.

Be aware
Contact your local police department to locate high crime areas on campus and in town. Learn what crimes are most prevalent in your neighborhood. You'll know what precautions to take once you've identified the most prevalent types of crime and where they occur.

Report suspicious behavior
Call the police if you suspect someone is committing or attempting to commit a crime. Your involvement makes a safer environment for everyone. Give the police a good description of the suspect. Do not try apprehending the person yourself.


Precautions You Can Take

Self-defense classes
Many college campuses offer training in self-defense through the gymnasium or police department for a small fee. Mace and pepper spray training may also be available. Inquire at your local police department. Private self-defense instruction is also available in most areas.

Make use of campus safety services
With a quick call to your local police department, you can find out what safety resources are available to you. The police department can assist with instructions for crime prevention. And many colleges offer night walk and night shuttle services.

What to do if you are the Victim of Crime
Report the crime immediately.  If the police are not aware of the crime, there's nothing they can do about it. Be prepared to tell the police: what happened exactly, where the crime happened, when it happened, who you are and where you're calling from. Do not disturb any evidence at the crime scene while waiting for police to arrive.

Reporting sexual assault
Tell someone you trust what has happened. Whether you report sexual assault to the police or not, you should seek medical treatment and counseling immediately. Do not bathe, change clothes, or otherwise destroy evidence before seeing a doctor. Your physician will be able to refer you to a counselor.