A Guide to Staying Safe on U.S. Campuses

One of the parents’ top concerns when shortlisting colleges for their child is to look at the measures taken by the university authorities to ensure a safe and stress-free environment. Crime is something that can happen inside the campus. The post-pandemic years have seen the return of students on campuses across the United States, and along with them campus crime. Colleges acknowledge the growing rate of crime that directly impacts the confidence of parents and students. For colleges, keeping their campuses safe is an absolute top priority. Hence, they take active measures to protect their students.

U.S. campuses implement a comprehensive array of security features to ensure the safety of their students and staff. Prominently displayed exit plans and regular drills are standard practices designed to prepare everyone for emergencies.

Effective communication networks are in place to quickly disseminate urgent threat and safety information through various channels, including email, text messages, outdoor sirens, hotlines, university websites, and social media announcements.

Training students, and equipping them with the knowledge and skills to handle emergencies arising from both external and internal threats is imparted. This training covers a range of scenarios, such as mechanical failures, instrument malfunctions, improper handling, and lab hazards.

How prepared are colleges to tackle crime

The University of South Florida (USF) offers a variety of safety measures, including a dedicated university police department, a safety app for emergency calls to the police, self-defense programs, courses on environmental awareness and personal safety, golf cart transportation and escorts on campus, and off-campus resources to help students choose safe apartments. As in any large community, crime does exist but significant measures have been adopted by the university help ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. USF SAFE app is the official safety app of the University of South Florida.

Universities nationwide provide blue light phones, which vary in size and features. For decades, blue light phones have been a crucial security feature on many U.S. campuses. These tall poles, topped with blue lights, are equipped with emergency buttons or direct phones to the police department. Strategically placed around campuses, blue light phones enable students to make emergency calls during crises. Most models include a speaker for communication with a dispatcher, but some also feature cameras or are powered by solar energy.

With U-Michigan’s Public Safety, students can report crimes or send tips about suspicious activities, request after-hours transportation, receive push notifications for emergency alerts, and view crime alerts. University of Michigan’s police department collaborates closely with the university’s International Center to maintain regular communication with students, particularly international students, regarding their safety. “In accordance with the U-M nondiscrimination policy, DPSS will uphold the constitutional rights of all individuals irrespective of their race, color, national origin, age, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, religion, height, weight or veteran status. Any crime designed to infringe upon these rights will be taken very seriously by the university and DPSS,” says the U-M DPSS website.

BruinAlert is used by the UCLA community to notify authorities of potentially dangerous situations. This system is exclusively used for emergencies. All UCLA faculty and staff with valid email addresses in the UCLA Campus Directory, as well as students with valid email addresses in MyUCLA, are automatically enrolled to receive BruinAlert email notifications. However, not all scholars are automatically included, so they must sign up for alerts at this site to stay informed: https://www.oem.ucla.edu/bruinalert. Students must take advantage of  UCLA Safe Ride Service. This provides free transportation between campus buildings, on-campus housing, and nearby residential areas. The UCLA Police Department provides a free walking escort service, Campus Walking Escorts, every day of the year from dusk until 1 a.m.

Advise for students

U.S.News in one of their editions enlisted a few tips students should keep in mind when they are on the campus.

Here are six tips on ways to stay safe in a college setting:

  • Avoid walking alone at night.
  • Lock doors and secure belongings.
  • Pay attention to residence hall visitors.
  • Have a plan when going out.
  • Be aware of available campus safety services.
  • Report suspicious activity.

Students and parents should inquire about the specific measures U.S. universities have implemented to ensure student health and safety. It’s important to ask detailed questions about campus security features, emergency response protocols, mental health resources, and any other relevant safety measures. Additionally, these inquiries can be addressed during campus visits or at webinars hosted by colleges.  These interactions provide a valuable opportunity to gain insights into the university’s commitment to maintaining a safe and healthy environment for its students. By asking these questions, prospective students and their families can make more informed decisions about which universities to consider and ultimately choose.





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