In our previous post, we discussed legislation which has been passed to aid colleges in establishing procedures and sharing information regarding campus safety. This is an important beginning in keeping college students safe. However, the actions that college students take each day are also important in increasing their safety. Parents can, and should, encourage students to increase their awareness of their actions on a daily basis. Parents and students might also consider some of the following factors, or ask questions regarding them, as they visit colleges during the admissions process.
What should my college student consider regarding campus safety?
- How do students gain access to residence halls? Do students have keys, swipe ID cards? Students should not loan keys to others or prop doors open. Students should not let strangers into residence halls.
- Be aware of lighting on the campus at night. Take a well lit path – even if it is longer. Report broken lights to campus authorities. Be aware of lighting around entrances to residence halls and other buildings.
- Be aware of emergency phones or call boxes on campus. These are sometimes known as “blue lights” since their blue light is recognizable. Be aware of the location of such phones and always use them if concerned about something.
- Share your schedule with someone – a roommate or friend. Let them know where you will be and when you expect to return.
- Don’t walk alone at night. Campuses often feel safe – and most campuses are safe. But students should not have a false sense of security on a campus. Common sense says that there is safety in numbers.
- Be alert and aware of those around you. Pay attention to where you are and what you are doing.
- Take advantage of a campus shuttle or escort service at night if it is available.
- A large percentage of safety incidents on college campuses involve alcohol and drugs. Parents don’t like to think about this, but it is a reality. Students need to be aware and to look out for each other.
- Share phone numbers with parents. Parents should have a phone number for an RA or Residence Director and for a roommate or friend. Obviously, if the student shares these phone numbers, parents should reserve them only for emergency, but they may be important if a crisis occurs and the parent can’t reach the student.
For the most part, college and university campuses are safe places. Students and parents should not be overly concerned about safety, but they should be aware and use common sense. An open conversation with your student about campus policies, your concerns, and his actions, will help him think about safety and help you to feel more secure about his well-being.