Tips for staying safe on college campuses

Eastern Michigan University Public Safety Police

College is often referred to as the best years of your life, but it can also be dangerous if you’re not careful. Crime is a common issue for college campuses, but the good news is that most colleges take safety issues very seriously so that students can have a peace of mind on campus at all times during the day.

Eastern Michigan University offers various options for students to stay safe while attending classes and/or extracurricular activities. Take the Rape Aggression Defense System (RAD) for example. Taught throughout the country, RAD is an excellent self-defense program that teaches men and women how to protect themselves against various types of assault. Self-defense, martial arts, practical techniques, the fight or flight syndrome and hands on training are emphasized. EMU students can earn credit by registering for the course, so it’s a great opportunity for anyone who has ever been curious about taking a self-defense class.

Journalism major, Lauren Wynn, 21, has considered taking a few self defense classes to ensure her personal safety.

“I have always wanted to take a self-defense class,” she said. “I think all women should have ways of protecting themselves.”

Classes are being offered for the upcoming winter semester. To view course listings visit: http://it.emich.edu/service/online/ocsb/ and for additional information about RAD, contact the Department of Public Safety at (734) 487-1222

Student Eyes and Ears for University Safety (SEEUS) is another great option. SEEUS is a walking/mobile escort service for students, staff and faculty to use if they’re uncomfortable walking to their classes, dorms or parked cars after normal business hours. SEEUS walking escort service is available during all days of the week for the Fall/Winter semesters from 5 PM to 1 AM. Walking escorts are also available for the Spring/Summer semesters from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM. SEEUS mobile escort service is only available for the Fall/Winter semesters from 10 PM to 3 AM. Call (734) 487-3387 to request a walking/mobile escort. SEEUS personnel can always be identified by their bright yellow jackets or T-shirts with the SEEUS logo on the back.

There are additional precautions that students should take, in order to prevent dangerous situations such as being aware of your surroundings,walking in well-lighted areas, avoid walking alone especially after normal business hours and keeping your cell phone/keys accessible at all times. Students should also tell at least one person where you’re going and who you’re going with, know exactly where your campus panic button is located, program the word ICE by the names of people you’d want contacted in case of an emergency and try to be hands free as much as possible.

Journalism/social work major, Jordan Cusumano, 21, takes extra caution when it comes to staying safe on campus. (Check out my interview with Cusumano at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WC_U0iOQxS4)

“On a daily basis, I do a couple of things to keep myself feeling safe,” she said. “For example, I listen to music with only one ear phone so that I’m aware of what is going on around me.”

Cusumano added, “When I come to campus at night for special events I meet with a group of people, so that I’m never alone and schedule all of my classes during the day when most students are on campus.”

Wynn also makes a strong effort to put safety first.

“I always walk with someone,” she said. “I constantly check the doors on my car and dorm room to make sure they’re locked.”

Wynn raised an important issue. Last year, there were a total of 29 burglary cases and 5 motor vehicle thefts, according to the EMU 2010 annual security report. To view the entire document click on the following link: http://www.emich.edu/publicsafety/current_yearly_crime_stats.pdf

Unfortunately, sexual assault is also a common crime at college campuses. The most common type of sexual assault that occurs on college campuses is “acquaintance rape,” which means the attacker knows the victim. It could be a friend, relative, lover, neighbor, employer or co-worker. As a society, we tend to assume the rapist is a stranger to the victim, but the opposite is true. In fact, women are 4 times more likely to be raped by someone they know rather than a stranger, according to the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA). “Date rape” is also common, so never leave your food/beverages unattended or take food/beverages and other substances offered by someone.

The EMU 2010 annual security report revealed 4 cases of criminal sexual conduct (forcible) and ICASA found that 1 out of 4 women were raped as college students. These findings prove that college rape is not a myth or exaggerated. College rape is a reality. Fortunately, there are many things women can do to minimize their chances of being attacked such as avoiding shortcuts,  looking assertive and confident, maintaining eye contact with passerby, carrying mace/pepper spray and trusting your instincts. Also, NEVER be afraid to make a scene.

It’s important to understand that not every campus is 100% safe, but there are definitely actions that students can take to prevent various types of crime. However, it’s important not to confuse safety with paranoia. After all, college is supposed to be a time for taking chances, meeting new people and having fun. Just remember that a little caution can make all the difference.

For additional safety tips, students can read “College Student Safety Tips” by Tony Newsom for FREE at http://www.collegesafetytips.org/

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