5 Tips for Staying Safe on Campus at Night

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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.

Protecting Your Valuables in College

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Protecting your Valuables

While we would love to think our campus home is a safe little bubble, the truth is that incidents of theft cannot be ignored. When living in a large shared space, or taking your expensive technology to and from classrooms and quads, it’s important to stay alert and do all you can to keep your priceless items safe and sound. These proven methods are the best way to protect your valuables in college.

How to Protect Your Valuables While in College

Before Moving Day

One option parents and students may want to consider is investing in renters insurance. In many cases, renters insurance extends to dorm rooms — or the company (or even the college) may provide a special, low cost insurance specific to dorm living. The deductible for the policy should be low, but it should cover the cost of the more expensive items you will need, such as your computer, a television, and the estimated cost of all your clothing.

You should also double check your car insurance policy to ensure that it is updated to your new home on campus. You may also want to up your coverage for theft and damages because parking in a lot can put you at a higher risk for incidents.

In a Dorm Room

When it comes to expensive jewelry or other items that are not really “necessary”, your best bet is to keep it at home. Your grandmother’s pearls can be replicated with a cheap knockoff, but they can’t be replaced if it’s taken or lost. The same goes for tech you don’t really need to get by, such as a printer or a supersized television.

If you do need to bring a few expensive items with you, purchase a fire-proof lock box for documents — such as passports, licenses, birth certificates, or cash. With larger items, you can additionally find travel trunks that are heavy duty and come with the ability to be locked.

Speaking of locks, don’t forget your bike lock if you plan on cycling around campus! While it’s tempting to stick to cheaper versions, those savvy in picking or removing locks can get through those in seconds. The more complicated the lock, the better. Be sure you learn how best to lock it up so that you’re not just left with a frame or one wheel.

Your bike and electronics should also be photographed and if they have serial numbers, write them down so that in case they are stolen, you can prove that they belong to you. Some campuses offer licenses for items like bikes and cars that keep this information on file for you.

In Public Spaces

Your bike, car, or other method of transportation should be parked in a well-lit area. The same goes for places you live and work. Avoid a study room that’s in the back corner in case you have to leave your stuff for a moment. And stick to the most popular paths home, even if it’s longer, if it is late at night (better yet, use the buddy system!).

When working in public areas like a cafe, you can keep your laptop safe by using a portable laptop lock that keeps your computer attached to a mounted item, such as a table leg. You can also purchase backpack locks that keep your bags zipped up when you’re distracted.

Finally, don’t forget about your wallet and purse. Even in class, be sure your wallet isn’t exposed when you’re sitting. For a purse or bag, wrap the bag’s strap around a chair leg and place the body up against your leg.

While you may have to go an extra step or pay a little more for a better item, you can never be too safe or too protective when it comes to your items.

 

10 Halloween Night Safety Tips to Follow

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Is Halloween your favorite night? We bet you’re not alone! Tons of college student’s look forward to the spook-tacular end of October where they can dress up. There are tons of parties and get-togethers in dorm rooms or clubs, so you don’t necessarily have to go trick-or-treating to have a blast. But whether you’re chowing down on candy, showing off your costume, or walking around outside be sure you are safe and secure by sticking to these 10 Halloween night tips.

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1.   Travel in Groups

If you’re going out at night, bring a buddy or travel in a group. If you leave a party early, wait until someone you know or trust is ready to leave with you so you don’t have to go it alone.

2.   Let Someone Know Where You Are

Before you head out, let your roommate or friend know where you are with a note, text, or email. Give them details such as the name of the host, the friends you are with, or the restaurants you plan on visiting. If anything should happen, this will keep them in the know.

3.   Check Your Goodies Out

Even as an adult, you should be particular about your candy and drinks. Don’t drink something you didn’t order, and never eat candy that has been unwrapped. If you have food allergies, carry an epinephrine pen or other medication just in case.

4.   Use Campus Security Escorts

Campus security officers are always on duty, and you should use them if traveling late at night on Halloween. Don’t be afraid to call for an escort or ride back to you car, no matter the circumstance. They are happy to help keep you safe!

5.   Lock Up Your Valuables

Having friends or new people over? Stash away your favorite necklace or put your goods in a lock box under your bed. While you hate to think anything would happen, that’s usually the time it does.

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6.   Avoid Dangerous Costumes

You’ve got a great costume, but can you walk in those heels? Can you see through the mask? Does your accessories look or could be labeled as a weapon? Before you go out, wear it around a bit to see if it causes any red flags.

7.   Stay in a Public Area

Don’t take the shortcut a friend told you on Halloween. Stick to familiar walking paths, well-lit streets, or friend’s dorm rooms. It may be tempting, but it’s better to be overly safe than to risk it.

8.   Carry Cash

Like most people, you probably rely on a debit or credit card to pay for everything. However, on Halloween, bring along some emergency cash — enough for gas, a cab, and/or a phone call home.

9.   Be Cautious With Strangers

If you’re at a party with people you don’t know (or don’t know well), be sure to be cognizant of your surroundings. Making new friends is great, but don’t leave with them or get stuck alone. Exchange numbers and meet up on another day.

10.  Know When to Say Goodnight

Only you can know your limits. Set yourself a curfew and stick with it. Staying safe on Halloween is far more important than sticking around for an hour extra.

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How do you plan on celebrating Halloween while staying safe? Let us know!

Important College Safety Tips for Freshman Year

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Your freshman year will be one of the most exciting years of your life. But while your focus may be how to decorate your dorm room or what classes to take, you should also consider how best to live safely. College campuses aren’t immune to safety issues. These tips can help keep you safe and boost your confidence when you’re out and about on campus.

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1.   Know Your Campus

Before you set foot onto campus for the first time, be sure you know your surroundings. It’s especially important to know how to get to key places such as your dorm, classroom buildings, the student lounge, and the cafeteria. Note safety features like emergency phones and lights along our routes.

2.   Utilize Campus Police

If you haven’t already, sign up for text or email alerts about safety issues. Campus police will let you know of any suspicious behavior and inform you of natural disasters. They can also provide safety options such as rides after dark, a place to report crimes, and certain emergency services.

3.   Pair Up

There is power and safety in numbers. Traveling with a group is essential if you are heading somewhere new or going off-campus after dark. If you are at an off-campus activity, designate whom you will be leaving with in advance so you can work out when the best time is to leave or a backup plan in case your partner goes ahead.

4.   Stay Alert

Your phone is a fun distraction, but it can also be a huge safety issue. When walking alone, put your phone away and keep your eyes straight ahead. You’re less likely to be a target if you look like you are traveling with a purpose.

5.   Lock it Down

A dorm room may feel safe and inviting, and you want to keep your door open to visitors. But when you leave, always make sure your door is locked. Add an extra layer of security by getting smaller locks for your laptop, backpack, and other valuable items.

6.   Keep Your Contacts Up to Date

Make sure somebody knows what your plans are. If you’re out on a date, check in with a roommate. If you’re going to an off-campus location, mention it to your friend. Give them details such as a person or two that will be there and the location. If you are nervous about your surroundings, coordinate with your friends to send an all-okay or danger text in case you need backup.

7.   Report It

You are responsible for keeping your school safe for everyone. And that responsibility means reporting suspicious activity. No one wants to be the person to tell, but that person roaming the halls should be checked out if you don’t recognize them. And a lone backpack is not a typical thing to see on campus. Other things to give campus security a heads up on are unsafe conditions such as a slippery sidewalk or a downed light.

8.   Trust Your Gut

Your instinct is what matters most. If something seems wrong, it is often because it is. Don’t hesitate to get yourself out of a situation or to ask a friend or campus security for help. Know your campus, your whereabouts, and your defense tactics. By taking extra precautions, you can stay safe all school year round.

Will you be taking these tips into account this school year? Let us know!