Staying Safe on Campus
Guidelines and recommendations
On the street
- Don't walk alone after dark.
- Be alert! Look around you. Be aware of who is on the street and in the area. Make it difficult for anyone to take you by surprise. (Blaring stereos, wearing headphones, radios, etc., make you vulnerable to surprise.)
- Whenever possible, it's a good idea to "dress for safety." Unlike "dressing for success," this means wearing loose-fitting clothing and comfortable shoes that make walking and running easier.
- Stay on populated, well-lit streets.
- If you think someone is following you, turn around and check; the surprise of a hostile look or aggressive word might change a potential attacker's mind. You can also head for people, lights, traffic, or run and scream. Yelling "fire" may get more results than yelling for "help."
- If a car follows you or stops, change directions. Walk or run toward people, stores, or a house if necessary.
- On frequently-traveled routes, note the location of emergency telephones or call boxes in public garages and parking lots before you ever need them.
- If you are near a public phone, call 911 or your campus police whenever you feel that you're in danger.
- Take self defense classes.
After dark on campus
- Always follow well-lit paths and stay out of shadows.
- Walk with a group whenever possible.
- Tell a friend or roommate where you are going and when you expect to return. Do not post this information on the outside of your door.
- If you must walk through the campus alone at night, call the Department of Public Safety at 254-501-5800 and request an escort.
- Avoid isolated places, both day and night. If you must work or study alone on weekends or holidays in offices, labs, or out-of-the-way places, lock the doors and tell a friend and the Department of Public Safety where you are.
- Park your car in well-lit areas and as close as possible to your destination.
In an apartment or house
- Ask local police to conduct a safety check of your home. This service is free.
- Install good locks in doors and windows. Door chains are unsafe, so use deadbolts for greater security.
- Never put personal identification tags on your key ring. Your lost key ring will be of no value to a criminal unless she/he can find the locks that your keys fit.
- Never advertise that you are not at home. Answering machine messages should never include statements like "I'm not at home now..."
- Likewise, never advertise that you are home alone.
- Pull shades or curtains after dark.
- If you let someone in and then have second thoughts, pretend that you are not alone.
- List last name and initials only on mailbox, doors, in the phone book, etc.
- Don't give out information about yourself or make appointments with strangers over the phone.
- Get together with a first-time date, study partner, etc., in a public place.
- Make sure that hallways, entrances, garages, and grounds are well-lit. Use timers or photo-sensitive devices.
- When away from home at night, or if you expect to return after dark, leave an interior light on in a room or two with the shades drawn.
- Never open the door without first checking to see who is there. Repair persons, salespeople, police, and survey takers carry identification. Ask to see it before letting them in. If someone wants to use your phone, offer to make the call while he/she waits outside.
- Leave your spare house key with a friend, not under the doormat, in a flower box, etc.
On a date
- Acquaintance and date rape occurs more frequently on college campuses than does rape by strangers.
- A recent survey found that 25 percent of all female college students surveyed were victims of rape or attempted rape, and that 84 percent of those raped knew their attackers.
- In another survey, more than 30 percent of the male college students admitted to using force or emotional pressure to obtain sex.
- Dates must communicate clearly with each other. Explicit consent should be obtained/granted before sexual activity begins. If an acquaintance or date initiates sexual activity, clearly indicate whether or not you wish this activity to continue. Give or deny consent.
The friendly stranger
- Many attacks start with casual conversation. The attacker is sizing up the situation to see how easily intimidation can be applied. If you are polite and friendly, the attacker may proceed to intimidate you.
- Although most people would recognize something strange about an encounter long before intimidation would begin, many ignore their intuition because they don't want to be unfriendly or suspicious.
- Trust your instincts! If your gut reaction to a person (stranger or acquaintance) makes you uneasy, get out of the situation as quickly as possible, even it if means being rude, making a scene, or feeling foolish.
As a member of the University community, you will become familiar with the people who should normally be within your work/study area.
Whenever you observe someone acting suspiciously or a person who is obviously out of place:
- Try to obtain a general description of the individual.
- Call the Department of Public Safety and make them aware of your suspicions.
- An officer will be dispatched to investigate the situation.
In the car
- Park in well-lit areas at night. Consider paying for parking. If it is essential to your safety, park wherever necessary.
- Walk to your car with your key ready.
- Check beneath the car and in the back seat before you get in to make sure that no one is hiding there.
- While driving, keep the doors locked at all times so that a person can't jump in at a red light.
- Keep enough gas for emergencies.
- Note the location of telephones so you are familiar with their location before you need them.
- If you are followed by another car, drive to a police or fire station, hospital emergency entrance, or any open business or gas station. Do not go home or to a friend's house. If necessary, call attention to yourself. If your car breaks down far away from help, stay in your car with your doors locked and windows closed. Ask people who stop to call the local police, your automobile club, or a friend or family member. Do not ride with strangers.
- If your car breaks down on campus or you lock your keys inside your car, call the University Police for motorist assistance.
- If your car fails for any reason, wait in your car for police help. Emergency police signal banners and windshield sun shades are available which can be displayed in your rear window to alert other drivers to your need for assistance. These items can be purchased in almost any grocery, auto or drug store. Few potential attackers will approach you if they know that the police have been called. Stay in your car, lock your doors, and wait for safe help.
- Police officers and tow truck drivers carry identification. Do not unlock your car door or exit your vehicle until they show you their identification through the glass of your closed window.
- Hitchhiking is dangerous. We urgently recommend that you never hitch a ride.