College is definitely a time to experience a whole new environment and outlook on life. But we have to remind ourselves to be cautious and proactive in our own safety and make an effort to promote the safety of our peers. Whether you’re going to a college in a small town and commuting to the city or taking a route where your education leads you to a large campus, it’s your responsibility to learn about all of your safety options.
Here are some tips to carry with you wherever you go in all aspects of campus and college safety.
1. Find a friend and be a friend: The buddy system is an age old system of safety. Someone has to be accountable for everyone to an extent. This system works more efficiently when you have multiple people, so the more the merrier. Be prepared to be aware of your own and your friends’ whereabouts and talk with your friends about ways they can do the same for you.
2. Public Safety: Ask ambassadors or student leaders on your campus about public safety on campus. For example, at Auburn University there is a blue light system in place to give students 24/7 access and visual points to reach in case of an emergency linking us directly to the police department. The department of public safety for your university may work closely with the city police department to provide safety. Know who is available to protect you.
3. Find alternate means of transportation: Face it, if you go to a larger university parking can be scarce and walking may be the better means of getting around. But if you see a long night ahead of you try to drive instead of walking home by yourself at night. Ask a friend for a ride, or ask someone to walk with you to your car. Park in well-lit or well-populated areas and steer clear of technology use.
4. Think before you drink: This can be taken a multitude of ways. Think before you drink anything you didn’t prepare yourself. Do you know the person handing you the drink? Be cognizant that just because you’ve seen them prepare the cup, doesn’t mean you’ve actually seen the contents of the mixture. Also think about how much you’re going to consume before you start consuming. Know your limit. If you don’t know your limit, use the buddy system or monitor yourself in your own environment with friends to get an idea.
5. Plan ahead: Is your phone charged? Do your friends know who to contact in case of an emergency? Do you have your ID? A general rule of thumb is to always have at least one person who knows how to unlock your phone, and designate your emergency contacts with the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency) in the contact name.
6. Situational Awareness: Some of the same things we are taught as children apply in adulthood. As adults we tend to no longer think about “Don’t talk to strangers” because we’re eager to meet new people. Talk to strangers, but be aware of who you are talking to. If you’re in the car with people you’ve just met, ask things about them that you can refer to later if needed. Know the make and model of the car you’re in and always ask where you are if you are taken to an unfamiliar place. If your friends stay in and you go out, make a note to let them know where you are every time you change locations or have a plan in place where they will know what to do if you don’t come home by a certain time.
The most important thing to know about campus safety is that safety starts with you. Prevention is everything. Take any and all steps possible to make sure you know what safety and protection is offered to you in any given place.