Heading off to college for the first time can be exciting. It may mean a new town or state for some, a new neighborhood for others. You may be coming from a small town or a large urban city. However, the parental reminders you learned as a child still apply as a young adult – always walk with a buddy, let someone know where you are going, don’t talk to or ride with strangers, etc. College is also a time where you will meet new and diverse people. Enjoying your new found freedom may cloud your judgment when it comes to your personal safety.
Your initial Fall Orientation will more than likely involve representatives from the Department of Campus Safety and Security. Campus Police are an important part of your personal safety providing essential resource materials on how to staying safe both on and off campus. Here are some tips on staying safe in your new college environment.
Residence Hall Safety: If you are a Residence Hall student please remember you are not the only resident living there. The safety of others is part of your hall responsibility. Never leave your door unlocked when leaving for class, lunch, etc. A locked door will deter unwanted intruders from entering your private space and helping themselves to your personal belongings.
Residence Hall Guest Policy: Residence Hall students should familiarize themselves with the university’s policy regarding non-students and/or outside visitors. Every campus has their owe guest policy. Some colleges require guests to provide one form of photo identification as well as personal identification, i.e. driver’s license, passport, etc. They may also limit the number of guests allowed in at a time. Check with Campus Police or your Residence Hall Assistants or Director if you have additional questions.
University Shuttle Service: Shuttle services are an excellent way of traveling to and from on-campus sites. Some universities have branch campuses with students taking classes at one or more different locations. Shuttle stops are often well lit and easily identified. As an extra safety precaution most require students to show their student identification to board. Shuttle schedules are generally distributed the first week of classes. If you are unable to secure a schedule contact your campus Student Life Office and Campus Safety Department .
Campus Police Services: Your Campus Police department one of the most important resources on campus. They are well trained officers generally have the same authority as city police. If you are uncomfortable on campus or feel uncomfortable walking anywhere on campus, most colleges offer campus police escorts. They are happy to accompany you to campus shuttle stops and in most cases are willing to wait with you if you are alone. In addition, they can provide you with year-to-year campus crime statistics, the location of campus emergency phones and other useful information you may require to stay safe and well informed.
Personal Safety: There may be occasions when you need to venture off campus for supplies, entertainment or to explore your new surroundings. Remember personal safety starts with you. There may be times when Campus Police may not be immediately available. Use good judgment. If you are visiting friends off campus let someone know where you are and roughly what time you will be returning. If you will be gone for an extended length of time inform your Residence Hall staff. I can not tell you how many stressed parents I have had to meet with because their student decided to take an impromptu vacation without informing the appropriate campus staff.
Keep in mind that college is about making new friends, self discovery, collegial discourse, and exploration. So remember to stay alert, stay safe and your campus experience will be much more memorable.
Former Director of Student Life, Temple University-Tyler School of Art