September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month (NCSAM). This annual event aims to increase overall awareness, promote conversation, and educate students and staff about campus safety. Topics include violence prevention, burglary, hazing, drug or alcohol abuse, campus security, safe dating, sexual assault, and stalking. Parents, students, and higher education professionals need to work together to create healthy and safe campus environments for their students and staff.
The Clery Act was signed in 1990, which forced all colleges to be transparent regarding college safety. As a result, all colleges must keep records and file an annual campus safety report outlining their campus safety plan, emergency procedures, and crime statistics.
The following campus safety tips can help students keep their belongings safe and avoid dangerous situations:
Lock your doors and windows.
- Lock your doors and windows when alone, asleep, or leaving your dorm or apartment should be a habit. Do not make things easier for opportunistic thieves by leaving windows open or doors unlocked.
- Close blinds or curtains so your items are not in plain sight.
- Use a small safe to keep valuable items protected.
Get to know your campus and security office.
- Learn where buildings and landmarks are on and near campus, so you always know how to get back home.
- Find the emergency call buttons or phones your school uses on campus. You can use these for emergency assistance.
- Find out how to request a campus escort if you have to walk alone.
- Ask security for a safety map with suggested secure routes. Do not walk on deserted paths.
Do not walk alone at night.
- Criminals prefer the cover of darkness. Therefore, always walk with a buddy and call for a security escort.
- Park in a well-lit and preferably busy area.
Be safe getting in and out of your car.
- Do not leave valuables in your vehicle. If you must keep something in your car, do not leave it in plain sight.
- Have your keys or key fob out and ready before reaching your car.
- Look around and under your car as you approach it to ensure no one is loitering or hiding. Check the backseat as you are opening the door.
Carry a self-defense product.
- Carry a personal alarm, whistle, pepper spray, or mace and keep it in an easy-to-reach place on your backpack or key ring.
- If you have pepper spray, test the product every 90-180 days to make sure it is still spraying.
Learn how to defend yourself.
- Take a self-defense class on campus and practice what you learn.
- Walk confidently—criminals prey on people who appear weak and they think are easy targets.
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Know who is near you and if they are getting too close. Avoid dark and poorly-lit areas. Take the headphones off so you can hear the sounds around you.
- Listen to your gut if you get the feeling something is wrong. If something seems suspicious, there is probably a reason.
Have emergency contacts listed.
- Program emergency contacts into your phone.
- Also, write your contacts in your planner or keep a list in your backpack.
Use social media wisely.
- Update your social media settings and limit who can see our photos and posts.
- Do not post when you are going to be away from home.
- Disable location services that are visible on social media and do not geotag your photos.
- Staying logged in to social media counts makes you susceptible to hackers. Instead, use a password manager so you can easily log in and out when you use accounts.
Are you going out? Make a plan and stick to it!
- Talk about how you are going to return home safely. For example, have a designated driver or set up another mode of transportation. If you use rideshare, verify the make, model, color, license plate, plus details about the driver before getting into the car.
- Have emergency cash just in case you need it to get home.
- Never stay at a party when all of your friends leave. Also, do not leave a friend alone at a party.
- Do not become intoxicated and lose control of what is going on.
Do not let alcohol or drugs become a habit.
- Learn about signs and symptoms of alcohol and drug abuse.
- Parents should ask questions if they notice changes in their children’s behavior.
Hazing is never okay.
- Hazing is usually a ceremonial activity that involves risk, pain, or harm as initiation into a group.
- Over half of college students in sports or clubs reported hazing.
- It is never okay for someone to force you to drink alcohol or use drugs.
- Hazing has resulted in 50 or more deaths since the year 2000.
Do you have legal questions about an incident or injury that occurred on campus? Contact the personal injury attorneys at Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C. An attorney will be happy to discuss your case during a FREE consultation.
We represent individuals throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Contact us online or call our office at (202) 695-1832 to learn more about your legal rights.