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Being Safe on Campus !

By John W. Kolberg

At long last you graduated high school and have selected a college or university to continue your education. Congratulations! You are entering a very important and exciting time. The decisions you make in the next few years will impact your entire life. Perhaps you will be attending a large state university or a private school. Maybe you will be commuting to community college or a technical school. Whatever institution you elected to attend, SafetyCops want you to take a minute to consider your personal safety while on campus.

College and university campuses have traditionally provided a special environment in which young people can explore ideas and learn about the world. One important lesson that institutions of higher education can communicate to all students is that violence will not be tolerated. Creating a safe and supportive campus community is both an obligation and challenge for college and university administrators, faculty and staff, students, and other campus personnel.

Sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking are serious and widespread problems on college and university campuses. Sexual assault is the second most common violent crime committed on college campuses, with most perpetrators being students known to the victim. Half of all these sexual assaults occur in the victim's residence, with an additional one-third taking place in off-campus student housing, such as fraternities. While there is current attention to the use of "rape drugs" to facilitate sexual assault, alcohol continues to play an important role in campus-related assaults.

In response to these disturbing realities, an increasing number of residential and community colleges are implementing campus-wide responses to violence designed to coordinate victim services, campus law enforcement, health services, campus housing, student organizations, and disciplinary boards. Effective intervention and prevention programs stress perpetrator accountability for sexual and physical violence, call attention to bystander behavior, highlight the prevalence and impact of acquaintance rape and dating violence as well as stalking and clearly define the role that campus communities can play in ending violence.

In addition to these efforts by school officials, student can do much to enhance their security both on and off campus. The following safety tips were provided courtesy of Security On Campus, Inc. (SOC). This organization has dedicated itself to increasing student awareness of their own safety, as well as lobbying for legislation mandating colleges and universities address student safety on campus. Their excellent website is located at . Read more about SOC at the end of this article.

Campus Safety Tips


Freshmen should "respectfully decline" to have photo and personal information published for distribution to the campus community. Fraternities and upperclassmen have abused this type of publication to "target" naive freshmen.

Study the campus and neighborhood with respect to routes between your residence and class/activities schedule. Know where emergency phones are located.

Share your class/activities schedule with parents and a network of close friends, effectively creating a type of "buddy" system. Give network telephone numbers to your parents, advisors, and friends.

Always travel in groups. Use a shuttle service after dark. Never walk alone at night. Avoid "shortcuts".

Survey the campus, academic buildings, residence halls, and other facilities while classes are in session and after dark to see that buildings, walkways, quad-rangles, and parking lots are adequately secured, lit and patrolled. Are emergency phones, escorts, and shuttle services adequate?

To gauge the social scene, drive down fraternity row on weekend nights and stroll through the student hangouts. Are people behaving responsibly, or does the situation seem reckless and potentially dangerous? Remember, alcohol and/or drug abuse is involved in about 90% of campus crime. Carefully evaluate off-campus student apartment complexes and fraternity houses if you plan to live off campus.


Doors and windows to your residence hall should be equipped with quality locking mechanisms. Room doors should be equipped with peep holes and deadbolts. Always lock them when you are absent. Do not loan out your key. Re-key locks when a key is lost or stolen.

Card access systems are far superior to standard metal key and lock systems. Card access enables immediate lock changes when keys are lost, stolen, or when housing assignments change. Most hotels and hospitals have changed to card access systems for safety reasons. Higher education institutions need to adopt similar safety features.

Always lock your doors and 1st and 2nd floor windows at night . Never compromise your safety for a roommate who asks you to leave the door unlocked.

Dormitories should have a central entrance/exit lobby where nighttime access is monitored, as well as an outside telephone which visitors must use to gain access.

Dormitory residents should insist that residential assistants and security patrols routinely check for "propped doors" - day and night.

Do not leave your identification, wallets, checkbooks, jewelry, cameras, and other valuables in open view.

Program your phone's speed dial memory with emergency numbers that include family and friends.

Know your neighbors and don't be reluctant to report illegal activities and suspicious loitering.


Campus Safety Evaluation


Q: Does the institution publish campus crime information as required by The Jeanne Clery Act? (Request a copy)

Q: Do the annual crime statistics include reports to the dean's office, judicial hearings, women's rape/crisis centers?

Q: Are Security Logs open for public inspection?

Q: Does the school ask applicants if they have been arrested and convicted of a crime? Do they admit applicants with a criminal history?

Q: Are campus crime policies and penalties explicitly addressed during orientation, as well as prominently stipulated in the student handbook?

Q: Are drinking, drug, and weapon laws strictly enforced?

Q: Are bathroom doors in coed dorms secured with master locks for floor residents?

Q: Are single sex and "substance free" dormitories available?

Q: Does the school address the entire student body during the academic year about growing problems related to campus crime: date rape and sexual assault, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases? When? Who addresses the students?

Q: Does the school have an open judicial committee? How many and what type of cases did the judicial committee handle last year?

Q: Does the school provide immediate medical, psychological, and legal aid to victims, as required by Federal Law ?

Repeat similar questions to the Campus Security Dept. and the Women's Rape/Crisis Center. Then compare responses and figures. Schools with aggressive crime reporting and a low tolerance for criminal behavior provide safer environments where students can focus on their educational goals.

Copyright @ 2000 Security On Campus, Inc. Re-printed with permission.

For More Information Check The Following Resources


Crime Survey Statistics

The DOE Campus Security Statistics Website is your direct link to reported criminal offenses for over 6000 colleges and universities in the United States. If you are thinking of attending college in a large urban city, a small liberal arts college, a specialized college, or a community college you can find their security statistics here.



Security On Campus, Inc. (S.O.C.) is the only national, non-profit organization geared specifically and exclusively to the prevention of college and university campus violence and other crimes. S.O.C. Is also dedicated to assisting campus crime victims in the enforcement of their legal rights. S.O.C. was founded in 1987 by Howard and Connie Clery after their daughter, Jeanne, was brutally raped, beaten and murdered by another student whom she didn't know in her dormitory room at Lehigh University in the early morning hours of April 5, 1986.



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