Annie Le had everything going for her; a coveted education at Yale University, a fulfilling job, a beautiful life ahead of her. Her horrible death three days before her wedding, in the bathroom of a library at her Alma Mater, reminds us that although college crimes of this nature are rare, they do occur.
Universities take many steps to ensure our safety, some have security cameras, others feature patrols by security guards and a few offer metal detectors outside popular buildings. But ultimately, your safety depends upon your own actions.
As expressed by Kerrie Troseth, there are several common crime activities present in college campuses. Troseth explains: “The most severe crime is murder/manslaughter. This number is usually relatively low or at zero for most campuses. Families may be concerned about this category; however, compared to most small cities and towns of similar populations, the number is usually at a lower rate. Campuses are now required to have crisis plans, including mass texting and emailing, to warn students of any potential high risk situations occurring on campus.”
Sexual offenses are also a common crime, and they are categorized in forcible and nonforcible. These types of offenses can have to do with alcohol and drugs usage, as students engage in these illegal activities and can more easily become victims.
As explains Troseth, “other campus criminal activities include robbery, theft, assaults, and arson. Incidences within these categories tend to have higher occurrences than the previously mentioned offenses. The higher offenses are usually burglary and theft. College students who leave personal items unattended, like backpacks full of electronic devices and other high priced items, are more likely to experience theft. Additionally, unlocked dorm rooms can also be a haven for burglary.”
So how do you expose yourself the least to crime on campus? How to choose a college that is safe?
1- Find college crime statistics when choosing schools. When seeking colleges for admissions, take the time to investigate their crime statistics by visitinghttp://ope.ed.gov/security/ which reports criminal offenses for more than 4,000 institutions of higher learning in the United States. You can also check out the 25 best and worst colleges when it comes to safety by visitinghttp://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-09-18/how-safe-is-your-college/#gallery=713;page=1;item
2- Learn what measures the college is taking to ensure student safety. Check out school websites and ask school officers what initiatives they have placed in action to enhance student safety on campus.
3- Once you enroll in a college, understand what resources you have in your new school to feel and be more safe. Often times, schools offer patrols that walk single females and males back to their dorms at late hours. Campuses also count with emergency lines you can call if unsure on how to handle a situation. Sometimes the police does not respond to a call when you are uncertain to be in a danger situation. These emergency lines are answered by students and staff that will guide you in the right direction on what to do to feel safer.
4- Use precaution always by following these guidelines, provided byhttp://www.ehow.com/how_5425402_safe-college-campus.html
- Always be aware of your surroundings. If something seems suspicious or you feel uneasy, notify campus safety right away. Trust your instincts!
- Keep your dorm/apartment room door locked at all times (even when you are in the room), and don’t loan keys to friends.
- Keep the phone numbers for campus safety/campus security in yourcell phone so that you always have them on hand in case of an emergency.
- Don’t walk anywhere around campus alone at night. Walk with a friend, or call campus security for an escort.
- Check underneath your car and in the backseat of your car before approaching your car in a parking lot.
- Carry pepper spray and/or a handheld alarm that will set off when squeezed.
- When you go out, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return. Then you will have someone to check in with you and who will notice if you are missing and can act quickly.
- Be careful about posting personal information on social networkingsites (such as Facebook). We are often giving people too much information about where they can find us, essentially giving them a road map.
- Do not accept drinks from strangers, and be careful about drinking too much when out.
And finally, sometimes crime is prevented by not allowing situations to escalate. Here are some smart ways of dealing with potential threats, as provided by The Boca Raton Police Department:
1- ” Look for ways to settle arguments and disagreements without violence.
2- Use good manners to help ease tensions that can lead to violence.
3- Report crimes and suspicious activities to police; agree to testify when necessary. If you want to live in a safe community, stand up for what you believe in.
4- Don’t support illegal activities, like buying stolen property or using illegal drugs. It encourages more crime that hurts you and your neighbors.”
By Claudine Vainrub, MBA
Principal of EduPlan