You probably think of your college campus as home, at least while you are living there. I know I do! But it can be easy to forget that your “home” is open to all sorts of people—students, professors, employees, the general public—and not all of them are friendly. Here are 10 useful tips to help you stay safe while on campus! (Note: While some of these tips may seem to apply more to women, it is important to remember that ANYONE can be a victim of assault. Stay safe, no matter what gender you are!)
1. Be aware of your surroundings.
Don’t start texting, talking on your phone, or surfing your iPod. Know what is happening around you, so you can’t be taken by surprise. And walk with confidence! Project the image that you are a person who should NOT be messed with.
2. Don’t walk alone at night.
I know this sounds like the kind of advice your mom would shout out the car window when she dropped you off at the movies back in the days before you were old enough to drive, but this tip applies just as much in the adult world as it did then. If you know you are going to be studying late at the library or leaving a party before others, try to arrange a walking buddy in advance. The majority of college students are pack-minded creatures, so this shouldn’t be too difficult. At the very least, try to walk with a crowd!
3. Go with your friends, leave with your friends.
This is the best way to make sure all of you are safe and accounted for when you exit the concert/party/guest speaker/other fun event. An easier way to implement this is to arrange a common meeting place or a check-in time with your friends. Let people know where you are, where you are going, and when you’ll be back. Remember: nothing ruins an awesome night as quickly as a friend going missing or getting hurt!
4. Carry something to keep you safe.
If you absolutely have to walk alone, or are feeling uncomfortable, be sure you have something near at hand to help keep you safe. What this is depends on you (pepper spray is my protection of choice!) but something like a loud whistle, an air horn, or even your keys held in your fist are helpful. What you want is something that will stop anyone who is attempting to attack you and alert others that you are in trouble!
5. Watch what you drink.
The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. That said, alcohol is prevalent on most college campuses, no matter what age you are. It is extremely important that you are aware of how much you are drinking, not only so that you don’t vomit on your friends, but also because you want to remain in command of your senses. It is very easy for people to take advantage of an individual who is drunk or passed out.
6. Watch what is INSIDE what you drink!
Flunitrazepam (aka Rohypnol, roofies, ruffies, ropes, easy-lay, or the date rape drug) is a sedative drug that is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. These qualities make it easy to slip in a drink. To avoid being exposed to this or other drugs, keep your drink in your hand. If you have to set it down, get a new one.
7. Know your campus security.
These men and women are hired specifically by your campus to help with safety. Knowing their names and faces can help add to your sense of security! Many colleges even have some sort of “safe walk” service, where you can call security and get someone to accompany you late at night so you can walk in safety.
8. Tell someone if something/someone is giving you the creeps.
You don’t have to put up with leering stares, being followed, or a suspicious car parked outside your dorm on Thursdays. Let someone (campus security, your RA, or even the police) know if something is scaring you. It’s their job to keep you safe.
9. It’s okay to be rude if you’re scared.
When you are fearful, yell. Scream. Kick, fight, curse; whatever you need to do to keep yourself safe or to get away from a scary situation is allowed! It is not your responsibility to protect the feelings of someone who wants to harm you.
10. When in doubt, get the %&#* out!
This advice was given to me the very first day I arrived on my college campus. It rhymes, which makes it easy to remember, and it never fails. If you are in a situation where you doubt that you’re safe or you just have an inexplicable bad feeling, GET OUT. It’s all right to cut your losses and run; 9 times out of 10, you’ll thank your lucky stars you did!