Just like razor blades in Halloween candy, rumors can easily start about unsuspecting college kids being attacked and waking up without their kidneys. There is a ton of information out there involving college students and safety. Some information is helpful, some is outright comical.
However, just reading the crime report in the The Temple News can show that crimes do happen here on campus, though not to the degree in cheesy horror movies. In order to prevent becoming a victim, outlined below are five instances when you could potentially be in danger, and realistic ways to avoid becoming a casualty.
1. WALKING TO THE CAR: Often, especially as midterms and finals approach, you may find yourself getting to campus early and leaving after dark. One of the first steps to take when you know you will be leaving campus late is to park your car in a university lot in a spot as close to the exit as possible. Have your keys ready when approaching your car, as fumbling for them in your purse or pockets will distract you. Lock your doors as soon as you get in. At anytime you feel it necessary, call for a police escort to walk with you. This is not a sign of weakness; it is probably the best choice you can make. If you get to your parking spot and realize you locked your keys in your car or the car will not start, call 1-1234 and a Temple officer will be dispatched to you immediately.
2. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Taking public transportation at night is not uncommon, though it is a bit riskier if you are by yourself. SEPTA offers free service schedules. This is the first step to being safe. Know when the bus or train is coming and avoid long waits by yourself. You can also get timetables online at www.septa.org. When waiting for a bus, like the C bus after midnight, avoid closed-in bus shelters, especially when you are alone. Know when the bus is supposed to arrive and wait inside a nearby business or populated area until then. Ultimately, the best thing to do when taking public transportation is to remain public. Avoid empty train and subway carriages, and take an aisle seat when possible.
3. IN THE DORM: According to Main campus police statistics, 55 thefts in the residence halls were reported in 2003. Browse the crime report and you will see these thefts include anything from textbooks to cell phones. The most obvious way to avoid anyone getting into your room easily is by keeping your door locked at all times. This may sound simple, but you still leave it open when you are running to the bathroom. Will you ever learn? All it takes is an unlocked door with no one around, and you are out of this week’s beer money. When your roommate has friends over and you are not around, your best bet is to keep your valuables tucked away. If you do notice something is missing, no matter how minor, report it to campus police.
4. AT THE CLUB (for the ladies) : One of the best things about going out is getting to dress up. The next time you and your friends are going out, try giving a different thought to your outfit. The safest way to go is by choosing clothes that maximize your freedom of movement, not just clothes that show off your best features. Simply put, if you cannot move, you cannot dance well … and if you cannot move or kick, you cannot protect yourself if necessary. Since clubs tend to be both crowded and dark, there’s a good chance you may be separated from your friends at some point. Before going in, come up with a meeting place for the end of the night. If there might be a chance you will be walking home, you might want to rethink those cute strappy heels.
5. WALKING ALONE: Regardless if it’s day or night, walking alone is a risk if you don’t take some precautions. First and foremost, walk tall. Studies show that confidence discourages possible attackers. Make eye contact with those around you and listen. Of course, this can be difficult if you are blasting music through your headphones. When walking some place you are not familiar with, take off the headphones and listen to the sounds around you.
Finally – and this goes for all situations – follow your intuition. If you feel uncomfortable or someone is bothering you, go to the nearest populated area. If you are approached, your safety is far more important than material belongings. Don’t put yourself in danger for a wallet or cell phone.
Michelle Nicoletto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.