It Takes a Village
Welcome back to campus! Hopefully you all received some much needed rest and relaxation before the start of the new semester. As we filter back into the dorms, it is important that we discuss student safety, YOUR safety. Afterall, we are Campus Safety, so why shouldn’t we write an article that addresses just that? As a member of your Campus Safety team, I wanted to touch on something that is incredibly important, but often overlooked, and that’s the role each of you play in your own safety here on campus. In order to maintain a safe campus, it really does take the whole village playing an active role. The most common safety breeches are also the most preventable, so please take the time to familiarize yourself with these simple everyday safety precautions.
If You See Something, Say Something
As a campus that is close to downtown, we will often get members from outside of our community walking the hiking trails, or simply coming to visit the gardens on campus. We can get complacent with outsiders being in our living space; however, once the sun goes down, we should be much more cautious of outsiders being in those same spaces. They should especially never be in or around our residential spaces. If you see anyone who is acting suspicious, and/or in an area where they do not belong, please inform Campus Safety, and allow us to make the necessary contact to assess the situation.
When reporting, the more information you can provide, the better chance Campus Safety will have at a successful contact. Information that you should provide would be: 1) A detailed description of the person(s) in question, including hair color, eye color, estimated height/build, clothing, any unique characteristics like tattoos, piercings, a bag they are wearing/carrying, were they in a vehicle?, etc. 2) What were they doing? 3) Where and when did you see them on campus? By providing this information, it is more likely that we will be able to locate the person(s) involved and make a successful contact.
First Floor Awareness
Each open window or door is an access point for outsiders. Even the angled windows on the ground floors provide a large enough space for a person to gain access. Being aware of this is important for maintaining a safe and secure living space. Always double check to make sure the windows are closed and locked when you leave your dorm or common rooms, and please double check the doors behind you when you leave a building.
Although not a first floor issue, some of the Emergency Exits on the dorm buildings are accessible from exterior stairwells or handicap ramps. Oftentimes, students will exit through these doors, but various environmental factors can sometimes prevent these from latching. Double check these doors as well when you leave. Although they are not ground level doors, they are extremely easy to access, and can create a danger to other residents living in that dormitory or apartment building.
Empty Your Vehicles
Vehicle break-ins always spike at the beginning and end of each term. Why is that? Well, it’s because this is when more students leave items in their vehicles unattended. When you are moving in and out of the dorms, making multiple trips, wait to set up your room until after your vehicle is empty. Many students will try to set it up as they go, but this leaves the rest of your items exposed in your vehicle. The more time you leave items in your vehicle unattended, the more likely you are to become a victim of a vehicle break-in.
The items most common to trigger break-ins are duffle/gym bags, backpacks, laptop cases or other electronic devices, and of course purses. If you have a friend or family member helping you, take turns making trips and have one person stay with the vehicle. Most importantly, don’t take a break until the cabin of the vehicle is empty. Most break-ins only occur if items are visible. So, if you need to break for lunch or dinner, place any remaining items in your trunk until you return. It is generally a good practice, especially off campus, to not leave items visible in your parked vehicle anyway. So, practicing safe habits with your vehicle on campus as well, will only help them become more natural.
There are many other ways you can help keep yourself safe on and off campus. These are just a couple ways that you can make sure you are doing your best to keep yourself, and others, safe during the school year. Also, make sure you have the Campus Safety phone number (503-768-7777) programmed into your phone for quick access in case of an emergency. We have officers on staff 24/7, even when the office itself is closed. Taking preventative measures ahead of time, and having a plan of action should a problem arise, will help you take an active role in keeping yourself and others safe on campus.