Although close-knit communities like college campuses give you a sense of safety, sexual perpetrators are taking advantage of this aura through acts of sexual violence. Students can learn how to be aware of unsafe situations, avert compromising scenarios, and prevent these sexual assaults from occurring. By taking proactive steps towards safety and being aware of sexual violence, students may increase their sense of security and help bring change to the staggering statistics of sexual assault on college campuses.
20 Campus Safety Tips for College Students
- Be alert. – Make sure that you are aware of your surroundings when moving around your neighborhood. Consider walking with a friend or someone you trust. Wear headphones in one ear and the music on a lower volume, so that you may stay aware of your surroundings.
- Don’t let texting or your cell phone distract you. – Stay zoned in to your surroundings. When you start to zone out, put your phone away and open your eyes to what is going on around you.
- Be careful about posting your location. – Many social media outlets such as Facebook, Instagram and other apps share your location with others. Consider turning off your location function.
- Know who you trust. – Colleges often have a false sense of security because of its communal environment. Although people may seem like your new best friend, give them time to earn your trust before you rely on them.
- Stay secure. – Lock your door and ensure windows are securely fastened when you are in your room. Tell a security guard if the main door to the apartment or dorm opens repeatedly or if you notice any suspect activity in the hallways.
- Get to know your neighbors. – Learn who your neighbors are so that you become more familiar with your housing environment. Don’t be reluctant to report suspicious or illegal activity.
- Think about an emergency plan. – Have an emergency plan for potentially sticky situations. If your phone dies, do you have important numbers memorized? Do you have emergency cash? Do you have your college dorm or apartment address memorized? If driving, do you have a hidden spare car key?
- Know your resources. – Who do you need to contact if you or a friend need help? Where should you go in an emergency situation? Be sure to locate the campus police station, campus health provider, and a local sexual assault service provider. Program these contact numbers in your cell phone for easy access.
- Always have a plan. – Go to parties with people you trust. Agree beforehand to watch out for one another and touch base if plans change. Don’t leave anyone in an unfamiliar or dangerous situation.
- Protect your drink and know your limits. – Never leave your drink unattended. If you step outside or go to the bathroom take your drink with you or throw it away. Drink from unopened containers or drinks you watch being opened and poured. Keep track of how many drinks you’ve had and be aware of your friends’ behavior. Stay hydrated while drinking alcohol. If you feel extremely tired or drunk seek help immediately; you may have been drugged.
- Sometimes it is okay to lie. – If you need to leave a situation and are concerned about upsetting someone, it is okay to lie. Don’t feel pressured to stay somewhere you feel unsafe or threatened. Help friends leave such situations too.
- Be a good friend. – Trust your intuition; if you feel that something is not right, you are probably right. Look out for yourself and your friends.
- Use your resources. – Schools usually provide students with free services such as security escorts, counseling services, sexual assault services, and health centers. Take advantage of these tools.
- Request schedule or housing changes. – If you have classes or live nearby your perpetrator, you can request changes from the college administration. Under Campus SaVE Act, federal law requires schools to honor students’ requests.
- Access off-campus support if needed. – If you are concerned about remaining anonymous, seek outside resources in the community. Many places have domestic violence shelters or local sexual assault service providers that you may contact.
- Take a friend. – Never go to a party or an event alone. And if you must go alone, tell a friend where you are going, when you will leave and return, and ask him/her to call you.
- Create a safety plan. – Find ways to stay safe and plan for your future safety by thinking of how you will handle potential unsafe situations.
- Don’t walk alone at night. – After hours, get a trusted friend to walk with you to your car. If necessary, contact campus security officers to escort you to your dorm or apartment.
- Know your way around campus. – Look at campus maps and locate where all your important locations and resources are (especially as a first year student).
- Consider taking a self-defense course or carrying pepper spray. – Many colleges offer free self-defense courses to prepare you for unwanted contact or unsafe scenarios. Think about attending a course or keeping pepper spray in your purse or bag so that you are ready to defend yourself.
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