You’ve been accepted into a college, picked out your dorm décor, selected your first major, and talked your mom out of crying…again. However, I need you to reserve one tiny piece of your brain for a matter that is often overlooked in all the excitement: personal safety. You’re going to college. You’re going to live on your own for the first time and with that freedom comes the responsibility of being responsible for your own personal safety on a whole ‘nother level.
Chief Yaniello of SUNY College at Old Westbury says that he tells all incoming freshmen that they should understand that their individual safety has as much to do with their individual decisions, observations and awareness as it does with the security provisions at their institutions. He says, “I tell all incoming freshmen that they should not try to live their entire four years in college during the first four weeks of classes and that their choice of college friendships and alliances are vitally important in that positive peer pressure is as potent a behavioral entity as negative peer pressure.”
These first four weeks of college are vitality important. Over these next four weeks the choices you make will impact your next four years. You will be making decisions that will impact your reputation and your personal safety. As you are forming new relationships on-campus, I ask that you remember these six tips.
1. That guy that you met at freshmen orientation or that you saw one-time somewhere. That guy may be your friend someday but he isn’t a safe person yet. Most on-campus crimes are committed by your peers. This isn’t to say that you should lock yourself in your dorm room. It just means that you should build a group of friends and build relationships in group settings before isolating yourself with a man you’ve met once. Don’t accept rides home from class or from a bar with a person that you’ve “seen somewhere before”.
2. Do not drink in excess. Do not drink and drive. Do not drink and walk home alone. Not only do crime rates increase when drugs and alcohol are involved but you are most likely to make bad decisions. The buddy system is just as important now as it was in grade school so work on forming strong relationships sober and if you do decide to have a drink stay with your friends (see #1 for definition of friends).
3. The most common on-campus crime is burglary. You can protect yourself by locking your doors and making sure your roommate does the same. Don’t allow tailgating to be an acceptable practice in your residence quarters. This is not only for your own safety but for those that live around you.
4. With that said, when you share a group living space you are unfortunately exposed by poor choices that other people make. Contribute to the solution. Form your own “neighborhood watch” with others that live in your building. Make sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to safety and create a system for reporting suspicious activity.
5. It’s also important to take good care of your things. Do not leave your electronics unattended in the library, cafeteria, or other public areas. Not only are these areas that a would-be criminal might look but it contains your personal information by potentially allowing others access to your electronic devices.
6. Expand your protective circle by providing your parents with emergency contact information. Make sure they have your roomate’s phone number along with contact information for your roomate’s parents. It’s okay to set ground rules with your parents. IE: This contact information is not backup contact information for me. It is for emergencies only.
Rose is the co-founder of SecurityGem.com, a site dedicated to home security as well as personal safety tips and information. She also serves as a researcher for new safety related technologies and has over 10 years of home technology related experience. In her spare time she likes playing video games, spending time with her family, working out, and smiling. Thank you, Rose, for these safety tips for college freshmen. It is very fitting at this time, as we have two grandchildren who are graduating this week. These ideas, coming from someone other than their parents, (or grandparents) are seriously intended for their safety. pb