Campus safety gained much prominence in the news. We can often find articles on the topic on the forefront of news channels, next to presidential elections and world events. The conversation on sexual assault and violent attacks in college and universities has surpassed the historic dominance of academics and acceptance rates and, to some extent, has changed the landscape of post-secondary education. Today, policy makers at universities, academics, parents and students alike think of campus safety as one the important aspects of college life. Now more than ever, this can be a determining factor when making a choice for college.
Campus safety has become such an important topic, that most college tours around the country make sure to allocate time to discuss this topic, explaining the measures taken by the school and the resources available. Every tour I have gone to in the past few years made reference to the “blue lights” for emergency calls placed in strategic points around campus, and provided statistics on the speed at which the response reached the site. Some tours expanded on the preventive programs, the security in the dorms, and make sure to mention the low crime reported in the area. On average, college tours dedicate at least 3 minutes to explain their policies on campus safety.
In spite of all the efforts, parents are sometimes left with the desire to request further information on this important topic.
While visiting a campus, here are the 5 questions you can ask:
(Please note that a student leading a tour may not know the answers, and you don’t want to put them on the spot… You might consider directing the questions to an admissions counselor).
Question 1: Prevention
- Which are the actions taken by the security committee to promote a safe environment? Do you have prevention programs? If so, who participates?
- Which preventive measures does the college have in place to cultivate a culture of respect and promote physical and psychological safety for students?
- What is the school’s policy regarding alcohol and drug consumption?
Question 2: Response
- If an unsafe situation occurs, who is designated to respond?
- Do emergencies fall under the town police jurisdiction, or does the campus have its own security team? If so, who trains them? How many security guards are there at one time? Which tactics do they use?
Question 3: Alerts
- If an emergency occurs, how does the police and/or security team communicate with the students to alert them?
- Can you describe the procedure?
Question 4: Investigation
- Which department investigates irregularities? What is the protocol to report sexual harassment?
- Can you describe support services offered on campus for such cases?
Question 5: Off-campus protection
- What is the percentage of students living off campus, and how does the university protect them?
In addition, students must keep in mind these 10 safety tips:
- Know your way around campus
- Do not walk alone at night
- Use locks
- If you are attending a party, don’t drink to the extent that you loose control
- If your friend leaves the party, you leave too
- Be mindful of what you post on social media
- Have emergency contacts handy on your phone
- Lock your car. Be cautious when you are about to enter your car.
- If you happen to be on a late class or lab, call the security police to escort you to your dorm.
- Consider carrying a hand alarm that can flash and make a loud noise
Bettina Weil, LMSW, IECA
Weil College Advising, LLC.