In 2013, there were 27,600 crimes reported against persons and property at public and private colleges, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. As a student, being vigilant about putting safety first and being aware of your surroundings is critical, This is especially important at night when your sight is reduced and it’s easier to be robbed or attacked.Being safe on campus, however, doesn't have to be a challenge. Use the resources to ward off predators and keep yourself out of harm's way at all times.
Don't Walk Alone
It's almost impossible to avoid walking on campus at night, especially when studying for finals or out with your friends. Luckily, there's a solution: find a buddy that you trust or, better yet, a group of friends that can all walk together. There's safety in numbers, even if it's just two of you.
Many schools have even eliminated their need for the buddy system with safety transportation that brings students around campus at night: "Many campuses install special security programs for students who want to travel home late. UC-Berkeley has a student-run security system called BearWalk, where between dusk and 4 a.m. students can call the free system and be escorted across the campus safely to their front door. After 4 a.m., a night shuttle runs until daybreak. If you're lucky, you may even get a ride in one of the security buggies," says Emily Burt, contributor for U.S. News. If your school doesn't offer this, you can always call campus security and get someone to escort you.
Be Responsible for Someone Else
It may sound strange, but being responsible for a good friend makes you more aware. HerCampus.com explains how this works: "Pick a friend to check in with every once in a while. Make sure that she's safe and ask her to do the same for you. Then, at the end of the party, leave together and text each other when you’re both home safe. Being responsible for someone else and having her be responsible for you will keep you both safe throughout the night.
"Devise a plan to meet in a designated place at a certain time if someone does not respond to phone messages. This system can be a valuable tool for any large campus event, like football games, dances, festivals and more. For added safety, establish a routine every time you leave your dorm or apartment: make sure you lock the doors and power down all appliances and electronics. Then, make sure you put your cell phone and keys in your pocket or in your purse so you don’t forget them. Having a security checklist will ensure you don’t forget important items, keep you safe on campus, and keep your dorm or apartment safe while vacant.
Use Non-Lethal Self-Defense Products
It may sound scary, but non-lethal self-defense products like pepper spray or a TASER may bring you peace of mind and allow you to protect yourself if attacked. The best part is, many of them are small enough to fit in your bag or purse, and more often than not, very budget friendly.Talk to an expert about the options available and find one that’s comfortable for you and easy to use in an emergency situation.
Walk in Familiar Places at Night
Reduce the chance of being caught off guard in a place you aren't familiar with by staying on streets you know when walking at night. Take well-travelled routes and know where the emergency blue lights on campus are located, suggests RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. Be alert for other people and always have your keys in your hand ready to be used to quickly get into your dorm or car.
Despite the frequency of campus crimes, your college or university doesn't have to be an unsafe place. Give yourself peace of mind by walking with friends, keeping a non-lethal self-defense weapon on you, and staying in familiar places. Don’t forget to take advantage of resources like UC-Berkley's BearWalk—they're available to you for a reason, so use them whenever possible.