How To Stay Safe And Keep Your Valuables Secure In College
Thankfully, college crime statistics have been decreasing for the last couple years, and campuses are becoming safer and safer places for students. With recent advances in security systems and the surge in the use of security cameras, universities can often implement some pretty powerful and comprehensive safety measures. However, even with that in mind, it's important to know how to stay safe on campus and in college dorms whether you're a freshman student or a returning one.
1. Take Advantage Of Existing Campus Security Systems And Features
Many colleges have taken steps in implementing new security systems in dorms. This means that various campuses have security measures that are probably more extensive than the ones you're used to at home, with features such as card-activated smart locks on doors and buildings which require a school ID card to access. Of course, every school will be different, but it's important to get familiar with the ins and outs of these features and to carefully consider the responsibilities which accompany them.
For example, some campuses offer smart phone apps which can be used to open dorm doors and access buildings in case of a lost card. While this is definitely convenient, it consequently becomes important to have a password or security feature for your phone, because a stolen phone could quickly turn into someone having access to your dorm. With the increasing prevalence of card-controlled building access it's crucial to know exactly what to do in the case of a lost card, and keeping your school account usernames and passwords private becomes a significant part of keeping your dorm secure.
Asking a resident assistant or other university-trained official about important steps and measures is usually the best idea, as all universities will have different security systems and therefore different implications to consider. Most universities will also have a safety and crime prevention page on their website, which can provide all relevant info and tips on staying safe on campus and in dorms.
2. Know How Your Campus Police Force Works
Many campuses will have their own dedicated police force, which provides valuable services, such as escort systems, to help you feel safe on campus. A dedicated police force means quicker access to assistance when you need it, but all these benefits disappear if you aren't aware of how to get in touch with an officer or how to utilize a service. One of the first steps in making sure you're taking preventive measures is to add relevant phone numbers to your contacts for easy access, or keep them written down or displayed somewhere easy to find. Being aware of how offered escort services work is also a valuable measure. Campus can be a scary place at night, and escort services are a great thing to fall back on if you ever feel unsafe.
3. Keep Your Dorm And Your Valuables Secure
The most frequent security failures in dorms are usually just the result of choosing not to use pre-implemented security systems. Though you may trust your neighbors and building-mates, leaving your door unlocked when you're out of your dorm is never the best idea, even if you're only gone for a short period of time. The most commonly recorded criminal offenses on campuses are burglaries, so the freshman dorm practice of leaving your door open is definitely not advisable if you're not in the room to watch your valuables.
Locks for laptops and computers are also something to consider, and a laptop lock can be utilized at the library or around campus to make sure your electronics are safe. If you have valuables or other important items, a safe is something to think about as well. Some schools offer optional built in safes so you don't have to worry about finding and transporting ones. For dorms which don't have built in safes, a simpler alternative is a trunk or footlocker with a lock on it. If you're worried about the safety of smaller valuables like keys, documents, jewelry, or money, it could be better to invest in a diversion safe. A diversion safe is a container disguised as a commonplace item, like a book or food product. In some cases, these can actually be the better alternative: not only are they quicker to use because they usually don't require locking and unlocking, but they're much less conspicuous (and therefore less of a target) than regular safes.
Dorm safety and security on campus really comes down to planning and knowledge - the key is to be aware of how implemented systems work and how you can take advantage of them if needed.