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Staying Safe from Sexual Assault on Campus

Moving to a college campus for the first time is an undoubtedly exciting experience. For many students, it’s the first time they have a real taste of independence. The freedom they feel is so boundless that some students become comfortable with the idea of committing crimes. No college is free from crime, but there are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Sexual assault is one of the most prevalent crimes on college campuses. Online investigative journalist magazine Investigate West estimates that one in five women on college campuses experiences some kind of sexual assault, most commonly date rape. There is a number of things you should do to prevent being a victim of date rape. For starters, never go out without a friend you trust, and make it a priority to stay together throughout the night. If you are drinking, do not accept a drink that you did not see poured. Better yet, always pour your own drink and open cans and bottles yourself. This way you can ensure that they have not been tampered with.

When walking on campus, especially at night, try to stay on more crowded and well-lit pathways. Many schools have emergency stations, usually marked by blue lights, that can be used to speak with or summon help if you feel as though you are in danger. Be aware of your surroundings and stay away from suspicious individuals. It may seem cold, but your safety is important. If you are walking around at night, it’s always good to have a friend with you. There is safety in numbers, and not being alone is a deterrent to potential sexual assaulters.

The point is not to live in a constant state of fear, but to rather have the knowledge that sexual assaults can, and unfortunately do, happen. Arming yourself with this information can prove useful in helping reduce your risk of being a target. If you happen to be a victim of an on-campus sexual assault remember that you are not alone and that there are a lot of people who are willing to help you.

Safety Questions You Should Ask on a College Visit

Visiting college campuses is an exciting time for prospective students and parents alike, and these short trips can be incredibly influential in a student’s decision to attend or not attend a given school. In addition to learning about a school’s academic reputation and extracurricular opportunities, you should be sure to learn as much as you can about campus safety and crime any time you visit a school.

There are a variety of ways you can secure the information you need, and a number of different parties you should approach in order to get this information. Likely, you will be taking a tour during a campus visit. While student tour guides will likely not have much in the way of concrete safety statistics, you can ask these guides important questions like:

  • Do you feel safe? Likely, this student will be instructed to give a positive answer, but you should be able to judge whether or not the student is being truthful or not based on their facial expression, body language, and the type of answer they give.
  • Have there been any major security or safety problems while you’ve been a student here? By asking a direct question like this, you are more likely to get a specific answer out of your tour guide as opposed to asking something like “Is this campus safe?”
  • How are infractions handled? If a crime or other dangerous incident occurs on campus, how is the incident handled? Will the accused individual be turned over to local law enforcement, or is the matter dealt with on-campus. Will the accused individuals need a criminal lawyer for their defense, or will they represent themselves in a student court? If the answer is the latter, even for serious crimes, you might think twice about the overall safety on campus, as there may not be much of a deterrent for more serious crimes if they will only be handled by school-associated groups.

Additionally, you should stop by the campus police’s office to get more concrete statistics about the safety of the school. When visiting this office, you should ask questions like:

  • What are the most commonly reported crimes on campus? Also ask for concrete numbers of reported crimes.
  • What measures have been taken recently to improve safety on campus? If there haven’t been recent improvements made to increase safety on campus, this could indicate that safety is not a top priority, or it could indicate that the campus is sufficiently safe. You will need to compare the answer to this question against the data you receive from campus police on reported crimes.
  • How often do you receive calls reporting criminal activity on campus? Additionally, see if you can get comprehensive records of reported crimes on campus for the past year.

By asking questions like these on every college visit you make, you can make sure that you find not only a good social and academic fit, but also a school that values the safety of its students.

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Larry Benneth+