As you excitedly pack up your worldly possessions and get ready for college life, there is one extremely important thing to remember: YOU are responsible for your own actions - your Mom and Dad won't be there to protect you any more. The choices and behaviors are your own. All the safety measures and stats in the world won’t help you if you’re not making smart personal safety choices. Here are some basic, fundamental tips and ideas to follow. Once you have completed these assignments, you can enjoy your new found freedom and personal safety on campus as you go through your daily, crazy, life.
Essential Gameplan Tips for the New College Student:
1.) Be Camera Shy: It is suggested that freshmen should “respectfully decline” to have a photo and personal information published for distribution to the campus community. Fraternities and upperclassmen have abused this type of publication to “target” naive freshmen.
2.) Get Oriented: Participate in all the orientations the school has to offer. It’s a great way to learn the ins and outs of the campus, quickest routes to class, how the systems work and meet a ton of new friends in the process!
3.) Do A Drive By: Study the campus and neighborhood with respect to routes between your residence and class/activities schedule. Make a mental note of where ‘blue light ‘or emergency phones are located.
4.) Sharing Is Good: Make sure to share a copy of your class/activities schedule with your parents and a network of close friends, effectively creating a type of “buddy” system. Create a network phone list to share with your parents, advisors and close friends. Utilize the Virtual Halo app and suggest that your new "buddy system" do as well so everyone in your group actively watches out for each other.
5.) Program New Digits: Get the number of your local campus and city police departments and program their numbers in your cell phone (dialing 911 in your time of need can first go to a regional monitoring station then to your local police) every second counts when you are in danger.
6.) Run With A Pack: Always travel in groups. Use a shuttle service, taxi or Uber after dark. Never walk alone at night. Avoid “shortcuts” no matter how tired you are after a long day of studying.
7.) Be Your Own P.I.: Survey the campus, academic buildings, residence halls, and other facilities while classes are in session and after dark to see that buildings, walkways, quad-rangles, and parking lots are secured, lit and patrolled. Check to make sure emergency phones, escorts, and shuttle services actually are available, working and adequate.
8.) Cruise The Streets: To gauge the social scene, drive down fraternity row on weekend nights and stroll though the student hangouts (with your pack). Are people behaving responsibly, or does the situation seem reckless and potentially dangerous? Remember, alcohol and /or drug abuse is involved in about ninety percent of campus crime. Carefully evaluate off-campus student apartment complexes and fraternity houses if you plan to live off-campus.
9.) Eastside Walk It Out, Westside Walk It Out: No matter where you are on or off Campus you must always be aware of your surroundings. The more you are familiar with the area the less you become a target for criminals. Remember: Criminals look for the easiest target-that is generally someone who preoccupied, unsure and generally unaware of who or what is around them. Always walk with confidence and know where you are going, be sure to have that Safety Chick Swagger.
10.) Heads UP: Keep your mobile phone in your pocket so you can stay alert! With your head down, you become an easier target to criminals. Walking with purpose and determination are your friends.
New Kids On The Block: Remember if you are in a new town, it is filled with strangers. Be aware when you and your new ‘roomie’ go to Wal-Mart or Target for your matching bedding and stuff, be aware of the strangers around you. Criminals in college towns look for the “newbie’s” to victimize. Be sure no one is following you back to your dorm or apartment. If you feel that someone is following you, make a turn on the next street then another turn (essentially making a circle back to the street you were on). If the car or person is still following you, drive to the nearest police station or well-lit gas station and go inside for help - or dial 911 and stay moving on a well-lit highly trafficked street until help arrives, while also sending an SOS from Virtual Halo if you're in a stationary location and can't move.
Share this info with as many students as possible! Have fun and always remember to make SMART personal safety choices!
Reprinted in part from SafetyChick.com