Campus Safety Issues
More than ever before, students and parents are soberly aware of campus safety issues at colleges and universities. Overall, campus crime decreased from 2007 to 2008, but high profile incidents have put safety at the forefront for many students and parents. The United States Department of Education records incidents of crime on college campuses in nine main categories to provide families with a total picture of campus safety issues across the nation.
The Jeanne Clery Act requires all colleges and universities that receive federal student aid funds to provide information on any reported crimes to the U.S. Department of Education. The information must also be made readily available to the public through print copies and, optionally, on the school’s website.
Accessing Data on Campus Safety Issues
On its website, the Department of Education provides Campus Security Data Analysis to the public. A person may select a single school or a group of schools on which to view data and may choose a specific year. The nine categories are divided between the place of occurrence: on campus, residence halls, noncampus, and public property. Hate crimes and arrests or disciplinary actions for certain events are also recorded.
This data, whether obtained via the Department of Education website or directly from a school, can help families as they research potential colleges and universities.
Staying Safe on Campus
Once enrolled, students can take specific actions to protect themselves from dangerous persons and situations. In the residence halls, students should keep their doors locked at all times and deny entry to any unfamiliar individuals. Students are encouraged to report any suspicious activities to the campus security office.
When walking around campus, it’s best to travel with at least one other person. Larger groups are much less likely to be targeted by criminals, and a great number of people are more apt to notice something unusual than one or two people walking alone. At night, students should stay on well-lit pathways and utilize any campus escort program provided by the security staff.
Cars should always be parked in well-lit parking lots. It’s a good idea to have car keys in hand before leaving a building and to look in both the front and back seats before entering the vehicle. If a student receives a ride back to his dorm or apartment, it’s wise to ask the driver to wait until the student has safely entered the building.
Students should know the locations of all emergency phones on campus. These can be used to quickly contact campus security if a student feels threatened or in danger.
Protecting Valuable Items from Theft
Valuable electronics – laptops, iPods, and mp3 players, for instance – and other items should be kept out of sight as much as possible. They should never be left sitting in a dorm window or in a public place. If it’s necessary to leave such an item in a vehicle, it should be moved out of sight or placed in the trunk.
When using an ATM, a student should try to complete the transaction as quickly as possible. Any cash should quickly be placed in a wallet or purse without being seen by anyone nearby. The student’s PIN should be protected by standing close to the machine or covering the entry pad with one hand while keying in the number.
If anyone near the ATM seems suspicious, the student should return at another time. Having a trusted friend along can make the potential for theft less likely.
Campus safety issues deserve recognition but should not be a source of fear for students or parents. Campus security officers would around the clock to protect the safety of students and staff. The ideas given here will help students protect themselves as well.