College Life – Staying safe on campus.

Matthew C. Woodruff

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After eighteen or more years of living at home, you are now ready to fly off and be your own person. Your parent(s) and other mentors did their best to get you ready. You carefully weighed your options and investigated where you wanted to go to college and finally the big day is here. The day you move onto campus.

In the United States there are roughly 3 million student freshmen annually and around 19 million students enrolled in total. Those are large numbers, so it is not surprising that crime on college campuses is a major concern for students and parents alike, nearly 30,000 on-campus crimes get reported. The actual number is probably much higher. According to the ACLU, 95% of campus rapes go unreported.

Crimes range in severity from murder and rape to assault and theft. In a recent report one Top 5 university reported several thefts of catalytic converters from vehicles parked on campus. In 2020 the same university had over 20 rape/fondling cases reported over 50 cases of theft and auto theft and close to 40 aggravated assaults. This Top 5 university has over 50,000 students and over 100 sworn officers in its police department.

Your first year in college you may not know anyone else, so how do you stay safe? By making responsible decisions.

Make friends with people you can trust. Your new circle of friends can keep an eye out for each other and keep each other informed as to where you may be when alone. Speaking of being alone, try not to walk alone, especially at night. Walk with a trusted friend or use the campus transportation system. Never be afraid to call security for assistance, even if you feel foolish about the circumstances.

Avoid parties with people you do not know and avoid getting intoxicated. Intoxicated people make questionable choices and are more vulnerable to assaults and rapes and robberies.

Try to be available and responsible for the people in your circle. Check in with them to make sure they are ok and make sure they are safe and ask them to do the same for you. Set up a code word or a meeting place in case of an emergency.

If it is legal to do so where you are, carry pepper spray or a taser device. Keep it easily reachable when you are on campus and if you feel threatened, do not become a victim. Make noise. Do what you can to keep yourself safe.

If you have a vehicle on campus, have a security system, park in a lighted area as close as you can to where you are going and keep valuables locked in the trunk.

Considering the numbers of people involved, campus crime is actually not that prevalent, but it does happen and often it is brutal. Stay aware but give yourself peace of mind by doing these simple things to keep yourself and your friends as safe as possible.

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Matthew is a free-lance journalist, and an internationally award-winning author best known for Dark Humor/Lite Horror/Supernatural short stories. He is a lover of the unusual, travel, cats and people's souls. Matthew is based in Florida, USA.

Gainesville, FL
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