As the amount of available daylight begins to wane, more students are walking around campus in the dark. Most college campuses are aware of their responsibility to keep their students safe. Here at the University of Tennessee, the administration has been installing more “blue light” security towers in places that could be a security risk, for example, places that aren’t as well lighted as others (between buildings, behind buildings, etc.).
However, it is not only the responsibility of the university administration to keep the students safe. It is up to the students to take responsibility for their personal safety as well. Here are some general safety tips for college students as they walk around on campus.
1. Be aware of your surroundings. Turning up your iPod and zoning out to the music makes you less aware of your surroundings because your hearing is compromised. If you are going to walk through campus at night, ditch the iPod and stay off your phone. Listen to what is going on around you.
2. There is safety in numbers. Never walk across campus alone. Most campus police departments will gladly provide you an escort if you call and ask them to. Walk with friends. If one friend is parked far away, take them to their car. Don’t let them go alone.
3. Stay on well-lit routes. Don’t go between or behind buildings if you can help it. A “shortcut’ is not worth compromising your safety over.
4. When in doubt, head to the library or another open, occupied building. If you feel you are being followed, head to the library. Your dorm or apartment may be further away. Go to an occupied building, most often the library, and call the campus police for an escort once you are secure inside the building.
5. Lock your doors. Lock your car door as soon as you get inside the car. Don’t stand with your car door open and fumble around for something. Wait until you are in your car and the door is locked before you fumble around. Also, always lock your dorm door, your apartment door, etc.
6. Keys in hand. Make sure your keys are in your hand before you reach your destination (car, dorm, apartment, etc.). You will spend less time fumbling around for your keys and will be less of a target.
7. Put 9-1-1 on your cell phone speed dial. Always be one call away from help. If you are being threatened, call 9-1-1 immediately. Even if you are not directly speaking to the dispatcher, they should be able to track your call.
8. Make yourself conspicuous. Be loud, be obnoxious, scream – whatever it takes to draw attention to you when you feel you are being threatened. People pay attention to someone making a scene and a would-be attacker will be scared away.
9. Do not keep valuables out in the open. Secure your laptop, iPod etc. in an inconspicuous place in your car (the trunk, under a seat, etc.). Ladies, don’t carry around a huge purse and a backpack. Keep it simple – use the backpack only. Make yourself less of a target.
10. If something does happen to you, report it immediately. The police will have a better chance of catching the attacker/thief if you report the incident immediately. Yes, it’s frightening to be the victim of a crime, but being a victim doesn’t mean you are helpless.
Many people carry pepper spray with them. Some even carry tazers. Find out what your campus policy is as far as having items for self protection. Be sure you know how to use the items. Do whatever you can to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of a crime. Take responsibility for your own safety. Be empowered, be safe. Stay tuned . . .