How Safe if Your College: Lessons from Sheep and Wolves

The media covers murders at colleges, as they are rare, and shouldn’t you  expect that campus safety is guaranteed.  Yet, since the Clery Act, institutions of higher learning are being held by the government to report biased information.  These statistics that are calculated involve a college or university reporting the crime in their local.  When you attend a school in a large city, your school is going to report crime in whatever neighborhood that school is in.

Take Emerson College which has the notoriety of being the least safe school in the country.  Well MIT and Harvard all made the worst 25 list.  They all are within a few short miles from each other too.  Now I went to school in Boston, and I know that crime in the city existed then.  Emerson happens to be located in downtown Boston near subway terminals and a large open park.  Crimes happen in these locales constantly, so their report shows those crimes.  The Beast, a source we’ve used before even states these statistics are flawed, but they report it as a news story: How safe is your college?

In reality, the threat of being killed, robbed or assaulted at college is much lower than other places.  Yet the news focuses a lot of attention on a college murder, because it draws interest, sells papers, and generally make people stop and take notice.

The point is that media shines a pretty bright and heated light when it comes to campus crime.  Especially telling have been murders that occur.  The Virginia Tech and the Northern Illinois murders really shook people up, as did the recent killing spree by a disgruntled faculty member at the University of Alabama – which was in every major news source.

I’m afraid that everyone may be persuaded that college life is unsafe and dangerous, but that isn’t true at all.  A study conducted in 2001, found that out of 15,980 murders committed in the United States the same year, only between 40 and 60 murders involved college students on or off- campus locations. That means that only 0.3% of all murders involve college students.  (Found here)

The Daily Beast writes concerning the Clery Act:

Specifically, for the past two decades, most colleges and universities nationwide have been required under the federal Clery Act—named for a Lehigh University freshman raped and murdered in her dorm before her parents discovered there’d been a slew of violent incidents at the university—to report annually to the U.S. Department of Education about crimes on and near campus, including murder, assault, sexual offenses and robberies.

Most colleges try to take precautions to make their campuses safe.  Many have special emergency lights for those traveling late at night.  There are escort services to help women avoid being sexually assaulted as well on many campuses.   So we are interested in how safe you feel at your campus?  If you feel your campus has taken the necessary precautions to make your college experience  safe, let us know either way?  Also if you feel your college has been portrayed as a villain campus, like MIT, Yale, Harvard, and Emerson, write a comment.

Dr Phil advises the following to avoid being a victim of crime:

1. Never walk alone
Try to get in the habit of walking with someone wherever you go. Never, ever walk alone at night! Plan before you go out for the evening. Who is going to walk with you to your event? Who is going to walk home with you from your event? There is safety in numbers. By walking with someone else, you significantly reduce the chances of being hurt.

2. Limit alcohol
It is imperative to drink in moderation. Have a plan before you go out. Limit the number of drinks you consume. Plan how you intend on returning home before you leave for the evening. Ask someone to keep an eye on you for the night, and you can do the same for her.

3. No iPod or ATM at night
By using your iPod, you have lost one of your most important senses – your hearing. Since your eyesight is limited during evening hours, you make yourself more vulnerable if you use your iPod. If you do use it, just put in one ear bud. Get in the habit of using your ATM during daylight hours. Make sure any ATM you use is in a well-lit area. Never use an ATM located at the rear of a bank. Never count your money while you’re standing near the ATM. Be alert of who is around you at all times.

4. Change your route and your routine
When walking on campus, get in the habit of taking a different route once or twice a week. Switch your routine. Do not become predictable! If you ever think you are being followed, cross the street and change direction. Find an open store or an area where people are gathered. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Know where campus security phones are located.

5. Give someone your schedule
Communication is key! Give your roommate your schedule, and you should get hers. Get in the habit of writing down your schedule and leaving it in the same place in your room. Whether going to class, over to a friend’s apartment, out for the evening or going to lunch in the cafeteria, make it a habit to leave your schedule with an estimated time you’ll return home.


1 Response to “How Safe if Your College: Lessons from Sheep and Wolves”

  1. 1 l. a. woman
    25/02/2010 at 6:12 pm

    1. Carry a safety whistle, mace or other safety devices with you.
    2. Know where campus security guards usually are.
    3. Carry your cell phone and be sure it’s charged.
    4. Consider taking a self-defense course.
    5. Check out books such as “Safe Without Sight” and read them.
    6. Know your limitations. Maybe you’re NOT Superman 24/7. It’s okay. Once you know your limits, you’ll be able to keep yourself safe by being smart about what you do.

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