Questions Parents Should Ask Campus Police
When a student is trying to choose a university or college for the next four years, the efficiency of the campus security is probably the last thing on their mind. Other factors, like the academic and athletic program, price and distance from family and friends will probably be closer to the front of their mind. So here’s where the parents can come in. Wait until your son or daughter has narrowed down their top choice in schools to two or three and then ask each school these 5 questions:
1.) What qualifications to your campus security officers have? Many campus security officers have to go through similar training to that of an actual policeman, but other schools simply make them go through an 8-hour course, hand them a Taser and call it a day. You’ll want to make sure the people responding to possible threats actually know what they’re doing, compared to just a scared kid on a work-study program.
2.) Are background checks performed before security members are hired? You would think, in this day and age, that everyone would undergo a background check before they were hired, but it’s not the case. Background checks do cost money (not a lot of money) and do require some time, so a financially strapped college that needs to fill a job ASAP might skimp on something like this. Plus, the hiring process for campus security could be very different than the hiring process of the school’s professors and other staff. Don’t assume that just because one staff member has undergone a background check that all staff members have undergone a background check.
3.) How is the campus security funded and is it adequate? The national norm for the amount of an institutional budget that is spent on campus security is about 2.5-3 percent. How does this school use their funds? They can brag and brag and brag and brag about the level of personnel they have working for them, but if it’s only people because that’s all they can afford, it really doesn’t matter how outstanding they are. There is only so much so few people can handle. A financially strapped institution probably won’t be able to offer campus security escorts during sticky situations, for example.
4.) Where can I see the crime statistics for this school? One great way to know the effectiveness of campus security is checking to see how many crimes are actually reported. A safe campus doesn’t necessarily mean nothing is reported, it means that of the crimes that are reported, a healthy percentage of them are pursued and solved. Schools with little to no crime reports often mean that students aren’t reporting crimes because nothing ever happens to the perpetrators anyway.
5.) How often does the school conduct a comprehensive risk and threat analysis? The old, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra doesn’t work here. Every few years a whole new slew of problems arise, and if the campus security hasn’t been doing its research they won’t be able to do anything about them before it’s too late. Think about it; Facebook stalking has only been around fairly recently. Your school better have a plan set in place for dealing with something like that.
And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spray, safes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lighting, fun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!
Can you think of any questions we’ve forgotten?
A Stranger is in My Dorm, What Do I Do?
This is technically called a home invasion, but let’s be honest, no one ever calls it that in college. I can actually remember quite a few stories from friends of mine where they were awakened in the middle of the night to find a stranger in their dorm. And to tell you the truth, it really is an honest mistake most of the time. Think about it; you pull 4 all-nighters in a row, arrive at your dorm, walk up to the 3rd floor and find your dorm room is already open so no need to use the key. You walk in and fall asleep on your bed. Except in a few minutes someone wakes you up to tell you you’re in the wrong room. You’re not on the 3rd floor you’re on the 4th floor…see how easy that is?
And let’s not forget the countless times a group of friends drops their drunk buddy off at the main floor. Hey, as long as he’s in the building he’s not their problem anymore (or so they say). A drunk college kid trying to find the accurate dorm room in a sea of hundreds is going to yield some misses.
So I’m going to say something that may seem a bit strange: you need to almost expect a few interesting visitors throughout your semester, and the steps for scoping one out are a bit different than if you live off-campus.
1.) Don’t investigate. I’ll admit, in my home off campus if I heard something go bump in the night there’s no way I’d take it lightly, but in my dorm room I’ll investigate close to any random sound. I always figure it’s a roommate in the kitchen making a midnight snack or something. But if you have it on good authority that there’s a stranger in your dorm (your roommates are all gone for the weekend), don’t go wandering out to confront anyone.
2.) Get out. If you have a clear shot at the door, get the hell out. If you can alert your roomies then great, but you don’t have to go through your whole place right now. Step 3 is coming up.
3.) Call the front desk. Not campus security and not 9-1-1…not yet, anyway. The front desk guy only has to walk up a couple flights of stairs to get to your room, so the effect is immediate. Plus, if you do have someone that is in the wrong room by accident, the front desk clerk can take care of everything right away. If things are iffy, they will decide to call campus police. Of course if you call the front desk and no one answers, call campus police. If it’s a serious emergency, like you know the intruders have a gun, call 9-1-1.
4.) Use your wits. If you don’t have a personal alarm near you (which you really should in college), use your keychain. Most car alarms can reach a lot farther than you think, and pressing the panic button on your keychain will signal your car alarm. Besides just scaring the intruders away, someone is going to investigate who’s car it is and someone will be knocking on your door shortly to tell you to turn it the hell off.
And don’t forget; for dorm safety items (like pepper spray, safes and personal alarms), check out our store at www.secureoncampus.com, and for dorm decorations (like dorm lighting, fun drinking games, and wall decals) check out our store at www.thegoodlifeoncampus.com!
3 Safety Concerns for College Students in Winter
Well folks, November has finally come around, which means the snow and cold won’t be far behind (if it hasn’t hit some spots already), and with plenty of snow and cold comes a whole new batch of safety concerns. So read on, take notes, and be safe this winter!
1.) Cold related sicknesses. Sure, it seems like no big deal (after all, what’s a little cold every now and then?), but we’re talking more about something like hypothermia. Every year, I hear about some college student getting drunk at a holiday party, trying to walk home (or just walk to across the street) and then never quite making it and freezing to death in the bushes outside their house. It’s colder than you think out there, and you need to be smart. Not that walking around town drunk was ever a good idea, but keep a little closer eye on your friends this year.
And if you do lose your friend, find their phone. I recently just installed a “lost phone” app (called Find iPhone) on mine and my boyfriend’s phone. If he can’t find his phone, I use the app on mine and it makes his phone beep while showing me exactly where it is on a GPS map. So see, it’s convenient if you can’t find your phone, or if you can’t find the person that is probably with the phone.
2.) Car dawdling. This time of the year is a jackpot for predators looking to jump an innocent victim on their way to their car. Not only do people generally take longer to get into their car (clearing the snow off of the door handle, scraping ice off the windshield), but it also takes people longer to leave. They sit in the car until it warms up a bit. They text while their windshield thaws. Don’t do that! Your best idea would be to install an electric starter that you can use from inside. Your vehicle remains locked, but it’s warming up without you inside it. That way you unlock it, put the key in the ignition and leave.
And if you can’t install an automatic starter (I know, my car is too old for this kind of luxury), please be smarter about how you prepare yourself. Have someone out there with you to help you clear off the snow or ice. Do their car at the same time while you’re out there. Start your car, go back inside and watch from a window inside, and carry some pepper spray or a personal alarm on your keychain just in case anything does happen.
3.) Less awareness. Walking somewhere in the winter time gives a whole new set of challenges. Very often you don’t have the best footing (walking on partially frozen sidewalks), you can’t hear much between the hat covering your ears and the wind whipping by, and you probably aren’t focused on your surroundings; you’re focused on staying warm. Personally, I’m guilty of this all the time; I put my hands in my pockets, look straight down and walk as fast as I can in the general direction of my destination.
This is stupid: very, very stupid. Predators know how to spot an easy target from a mile away, and someone with their hands in their pockets that isn’t even looking 10 feet in front of them is definitely an easy target. Plus, it’s cold out. A predator might wait all night for the perfect victim on a warm summer’s eve, but in 10 degree weather in the middle of winter? They’re going to take the first bait that comes along. So don’t be an easy target. Better yet, get a ride.
And don’t forget to check out our store full of college safety equipment at www.secureoncampus.com!
Do you have any additional winter safety tips?
Does Your School Need an Update?
I’m sure you have all heard the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at one point or another. And while this phrase is certainly useful in certain occasions, there are situations when this way of thinking is downright dangerous. Your school’s role in the level of your safety, unfortunately, happens to be one of them.
Folks, let’s get completely honest for a second here: the world is changing and it’s changing fast. If your school isn’t continually updating their safety procedures, you are in danger. In fact, you’re probably in more danger than you even realize.
An example you say? Why certainly!
Just this month, a student was raped, in her dorm, by four unknown students that did not reside in that dorm. Just how did they get in? They were signed in, by a student that didn’t know them. Now even though this is a blatant violation on both the part of the student signing in people they didn’t know as well as the individual that let them go (they required only 3 out of the 4 students to sign in), there’s an even larger problem at stake. All it took was for a few people to convince someone to sign them in and the entire dorm was at their mercy. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person that jumps at the chance to help someone out. Of course I tell myself I would never sign in someone I don’t know, but change the circumstances a little bit and I easily could’ve been in the same situation.
What if it was snowing outside and they just wanted to sit in the lobby? I’d sign them in so they could sit where it was nice and warm. Sure it meant they could go upstairs, but I’d trust them not to. Bad idea? Definitely.
The problem here lies mostly with the school. A policy that requires you to be signed in by someone you may or may not know means it just takes one little white lie to get you in the door. In this case, the school is revisiting their security policy as well as conducting regular floor meetings to reiterate the school’s safety policies.
So what do you think should happen? Should the student that signed the individuals in be punished? What if the student did know them and they ended up raping someone without the student’s knowledge, should they still be punished?
Do you have any ideas for a possible policy change that might prevent this sort of thing from occurring in the future? What kind of dorm security policy to you have at your school? Do you think it’s adequate or that it needs to be updated?
Let us know, we’d love to hear your opinions on this matter!
Stupid Dorm Rules You Really Do Need to Follow
I know, I’ve been there; it’s 8:00 at night and your RA comes knocking on the door because whatever video game battle you’ve got going on with your roommate has gotten a bit heated and God forbid anyone on your floor has ever heard the word “crap” shouted at an above average level. Yes, this is a stupid rule, and I have no qualms with you arguing with your RA about it. Just keep in mind that they probably don’t have a problem with it, they’ve just got some jackass knocking on their door every 20 minutes to complain about it so now they have to do something.
However, there are some rules that no matter how stupid, silly or completely ridiculous they are you really, really do need to follow, for your own safety and the safety of everyone else in your dorm.
1.) No candles. Ugh, I know! How tough is it to blow out a candle, right? Well actually…think about the collective unit of possibly high, drunk or hungover and definitely sleep-deprived college students that make up the dorms. Someone’s bound to miss a candle once in a while, and then combine that with the fact that many students completely ignore fire-drills (maybe if they didn’t run them constantly and always at 2:00 in the morning more people would participate in them), and you’ve got yourself a dangerous situation. Plus, there are now a million other things you could bring that don’t have an open flame (here’s one example), so stop complaining and just follow the no candle rule.
2.) No propping doors open. Personally, this was one of my biggest vices. The act of swiping my student ID badge to get into my dorm every single freakin’ time I left the building was beyond annoying, especially when those ID badges start to wear out halfway through the semester and begin failing to let you in. But you can’t prop the door open, folks. All those creepy people your parents warned you about? Screw the dimly lit campus paths at 3:00 in the morning, if they can get into a dorm of sleeping students they’ll have the time of their life. Not to mention all the potential for stuff getting stolen.
3.) No heavy duty speakers or amps. First of all, why the hell do you need something that can be heard from three miles away? The fact is you don’t, because as soon as it’s loud enough for that guy across the hall to hear (which is not difficult with the seemingly paper thin walls of dormitories) it’s too loud. Everyone wants to escape to some good tunes every now and then but c’mon, wear some headphones. Don’t be a jackass.
And second of all, equipment like that uses up some serious electricity, and these rooms aren’t meant to withstand that kind of demand. You could end up short circuiting something, which if it doesn’t cause a fire or a blackout, it will at least waste up some of the school’s budget having to fix everything. Think you won’t see a bump in your tuition prices next year? You’re wrong. Invest in a pair of good quality headphones instead.
What ridiculous rules do you have to follow at your dorm?
Safety Items to Keep in Your Purse/Backpack
Now there are countless safety items that you should take with you to college. Fire extinguishers, for example, are not very expensive and are invaluable in a tight spot, but I doubt you’ll be carrying one around in your backpack all day. The same goes for your laptop safe or even a bunch of padlocks. Even if you think it’s a good idea to lock up your backpack (it is) I guarantee you’re going to choose practicality over safety in the end. And the number of times per hour combined with the exhausting weight of textbooks, you’re not going to carry anything more than you have to.
Besides the following items, that is. They weigh next to nothing and they just might save your life, so read on and stock up.
1.) Pepper spray. What, you’re a big strong man that doesn’t believe in carrying pepper spray? You’re an independent woman that has taken her fair share of self-defense classes and can take care of herself? Riiiiiight. Don’t want your friends making fun of you? Completely understandable, but still not a valid excuse. We’ve got pepper spray disguised as a black pen, perfume, lipstick and even as a tiny keychain. The fact is it’s super light, and you’ll (hopefully) never have to use it. But at least it’s there clipped on the side of your backpack or sitting at the bottom of your purse if you should ever need it.
2.) An alarm. A personal alarm costs next to nothing, and it creates a shrieking sound that will bring help immediately. In fact, alarms have been found to be almost more efficient than yelling help; people might not always come to the sound of someone yelling, but they will absolutely do something about an insanely annoying sound coming right outside their window. Put an alarm on your keychain and you’ll instantly have a way of drawing attention to yourself in a scary situation.
3.) A witness. What do you think is the greatest deterrent for a criminal? You might think it’s the punishment itself, but you’d be wrong. According to the most recent and valid research we could find, it’s not the severity of the punishment that criminals fear, it’s the certainty of punishment. That’s why most crimes happen in the absence of witnesses; no one wants to get caught. Enter the iWitness Smartphone Service. Not only can you film the offense taking place, but your phone also automatically calls 9-1-1 and tracks your location. Make sure you’re never alone again.
These things cost pennies on the dollar but they are incredibly helpful in keeping you safe, so what are you waiting for?!
Think it’s just a pen? Think again!
What do you guys think?
College Crime You Need to Look Out For
Regardless of how much you see in the news, college campuses are decently safe places. That doesn’t mean crime doesn’t happen though, and in order to be prepared you need to know what you’re up against.
What’s more, you need to know the more popular offenses that are on the rise. So we’ve made it easy for you!
1.) Property Damage. Most recent data suggests that over 80% of campus crimes involve property of some kind (that includes theft). And as expensive as typical college costs are (tuition, books, dorm room, food, etc.) having to replace a laptop (which also has 36 completed pages of your senior thesis) can really hurt. That’s why it’s important to protect your property. A laptop safe, for example, will ensure that your laptop stays exactly where you left it. Various locks and dorm safes are also great ways to make sure your valuables don’t end up damaged or stolen.
2.) Identity Theft. While theft tends to be most common campus crime, identity theft has been on the rise. And it’s no surprise; after all, colleges typically require quite a bit of personal information for a number of things. Requesting transcripts, signing up for internships, changing your class schedule and signing up for a dorm room often require multiple forms of identification. So while it’s perfectly understandable to have things like your driver’s license, birth certificate and social security card in your dorm room, it would be stupid to leave all those things out in the open! A dorm safe is a perfect tool for storing these items. In addition, various computer securities will keep crooks from looking up all of your information on your computer, like login information and passwords.
3.) Violent crimes. Even though severe violent crimes make up an exceptionally low percentage of overall university crime (usually around 2% of the total crime), the occurrences are on the upswing, which means you should prepare yourself for the worst. A small bottle of pepper spray, for example, is always a great tool to carry. Plus, with advances in technology other forms of protection are coming out on the market. The most recent is the iWitness smartphone service that allows you to take a video of anyone making you nervous. Essentially, it gives you what criminals fear most: a witness.
Another way to protect yourself from violent crimes is to be aware of the situation and know the warning signs. If you’re at a party and someone is drunk and gradually getting more and more escalated, leave the party! If your date is getting pushy about wanting to come inside with you, slam the door in their face! You know what something feels “off”, and trusting that instinct is always your best bet!
You know any ways to fend off these crimes?
Dorm Safety Essentials
It’s getting to be that time of year: you’ve probably been thinking about what you need to take with you to college, but you’re not going to pack until maybe the day before. You’ll use the excuse “I need to pack” to get out of virtually every uncomfortable situation (dinner with your grandparents), but let’s be honest; your room isn’t any more packed than it was 2 weeks ago.
So before you really get started, let’s go over what you need to bring with you; as far as safety goes. Pack these essentials first then use your spare suitcases to pack everything else.
1.) Locks. Theft is far and above the #1 reported incident on college campuses. Between things in your dorm, things in your car and things in your backpack, you’ve probably got a lot of expensive stuff lying around. And with locks being incredible affordable and practical, there’s really no reason not to own one. We’d recommend putting one on your closet (once you get to know you’re roommie you can remove it, but in the beginning you may wonder where the hell all your clothes have started disappearing too), on your dorm storage trunk (or any dorm trunk, for that matter), on your backpack and on your glove compartment in your car, if you can.
2.) Safes. Just like locks are important, so are safes. If you can’t afford a regular safe for the majority of your stuff (student ID, birth certificate, etc.), at least spring for a laptop safe. Our most basic model holds laptops up to 17 inches, is fire insulated, has double steel walls and can be secured to anything non-mobile with a 48-inch cable. You paid a lot of money for that laptop, don’t let some jackass get it for free.
3.) Fire Extinguishers. It may seem silly (your dorm has one, every building has one), but let’s be realistic. You start a fire in your room (yes, it happens), are you going to have time to pull up the dorm map and figure out where the hell the fire extinguisher is? Probably not. Just go to your room and get the one you brought with you. Better safe than sorry.
4.) Pepper Spray. Pepper spray comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes now, so you don’t have to look like a paranoid freshman with a giant canister of pepper spray attached to their belt loop. And even if you think you’ll never need it (we hope you’ll never need it), it’s better to have it just in case.
5.) Your iWitness App. This isn’t going to take up storage room but it’s just as important. We’d recommend downloading the service long before you get to college so if the time ever comes to use it you won’t be fumbling with your phone.
Anything anyone wants to add?
Introducing the iWitness Self Protection Smartphone Service!
What’s the problem with carrying a weapon, anyone? Let’s go through the pros and cons:
- You can use it to protect yourself
- You often need a permit to carry one
- If it’s taken from you in a struggle the attacker can use it against you
- It isn’t safe for small children to carry
- You can’t carry it in certain public places, such as on an airplane or in a classroom
- If you panic while in control of it, someone may be hurt unintentionally (such as a bystander)
- You may be seen as a threat (someone shoots you because they notice you’re carrying a knife)
Plus, believe it or not, a weapon is nowhere near the greatest deterrent of crime. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you won’t be attacked.
In fact, according to a 2010 study by Valerie Wright, Ph.D. titled Deterrence in Criminal Justice; Evaluating Certainty vs Severity of Punishment, it’s not the severity of punishment that criminals fear, it’s the certainty of punishment. Meaning it doesn’t matter what the punishment is if you get away with it.
So what’s the #1 deterrent? Witnesses. It’s the reason no one is nervous about going to the park in broad daylight and why it’s always recommended to meet a first date in a public place. Not only are people there to see an incident should one take place, but there are cameras as well. But you’re not always able to be in a public place, surrounded by people, in broad daylight. Sometimes you need to get to the library at 10:00 at night to pull an all-nighter. Sometimes you get home late and have to walk the distance from your car to your dorm alone, in the dark. What do you do then?
That’s where the iWitness smartphone service comes in. Plus, it literally solves all of the issues listed above for a method of self-defense. It’s safe to carry in public places, it’s safe for children to use, a criminal can’t turn it against you, no one else will get hurt accidently while you use it and you don’t need a permit to carry your cellphone. So what is it, exactly?
Basically, it’s a smartphone app that sends video and audio recordings of the event to a secured server (meaning if they break your phone the evidence is still safe), while automatically dialing 9-1-1, tracking your location and emitting flashing lights and an audio alarm.
With just a push of a button, you’ve got criminals’ worst fear staring them in the face; the fear that they’ll get caught. Even if they have a weapon, using it will be their downfall, whereas if they have a gun and you have a gun, all they have to do is know how to use theirs better. Arm the app at the first sign of danger and you’ll never be alone again.
And what does this service cost? Only $2.50 a month (or $29.99 a year), which is hardly anything compared to the peace of mind it provides.
Here’s a video to help explain things:
Would any of you get some use out of this service?
What to Do If Someone Starts Following You
Every once in a while you’ve got to walk somewhere alone through generally considered “unsafe” territory. Maybe it’s on your way home late from a library cram session and the shuttles have stopped running, you can’t get ahold of your roommate and you have no vehicle of your own. Yup, you’re probably going to make the sketchy walk from the library to your dorm. We get it; we’ve been there.
So what happens if you’re being followed? Well hopefully you have the new iWitness phone app, for one, but if you don’t here are some basic tips to keeping yourself safe with a stranger on your trail:
1.) Stay calm. Panicking is only going to cloud your thoughts. Besides, how do you know they just don’t happen to be walking to a similar area as you are? Slow your breathing and try to clear your head.
2.) Find other people. Do you see any businesses nearby with people in them (a bar, a coffee shop, or even a warehouse with night shift workers)? Do you know of a friend that lives nearby or a party that might be going on just a block down the street? If so, you might want to take a quick detour, at least for a few minutes.
3.) Don’t stop. If you think you’re being followed, the worst thing you can do is stop and let them catch up. Keep walking at a brisk pace until you get more details about the situation.
4.) Have your cell phone ready. Arm your iWitness app, call a cab or anyone that can come help you. Just be sure you keep moving.
5.) Run. Just have an idea of where you are running to. Running straight into a dark, dead end alley isn’t going to help your cause at all. On the other hand, if you see a spot a block away with people, run there, don’t walk. Your follower may see the people too and understand the time they have to make a move are limited.
6.) Yell. No criminal prefers to attack a screaming victim; it draws more attention to the scene. And don’t let the fear of embarrassment stop you; would you rather be an idiot or a dead idiot?
7.) Get as many details as possible. Don’t stop to turn around and see your follower, but if it’s possible to get some details make a mental note of it. Is it a male or female? How tall do they seem to be? Are they following you on foot or in a car? If it’s in a car, can you get a license plate number?
8.) Look for a weapon. This is listed last for a reason; weapons are only useful if you know how to use them and if they won’t be taken away from you and used against you. A metal pipe might only be handy for a second, so you’d better be ready to get your blows in. Just make sure you’re not stopping to look around for something. Just grab it and go.
Have you ever been followed?
College Safety Equipment You Don’t Need
Everyone in their right mind wants you to be safe when you head off to college, but there’s well intentioned and then there’s downright preying on your fear of the unknown. Yes, you’re going to a new place, but for the love of God you’re not going to some barren wasteland inhabited only by sex offenders and con artists, you’re going to college! Some safety gear you need and some you don’t, but you’ll only realize what you don’t need halfway into your freshman year after you’ve already sacrificed a respectable amount of money and some quality storage room in your suitcase. So here are a few serious (and some not-so-serious) suggestions for safety stuff you don’t need:
1.) Anything that could be in a Mission: Impossible movie. You do not need voice recognition software to unlock your apartment door, and you do not need eyeball pupil dilation recognition to log into your computer. Besides, if I were a criminal, and I came across a house with this kind of protection I’d have to break in, out of sheer curiosity! And remember, all the voice recognition technology in the world can’t stop a brick going through the window.
2.) A bodyguard. Unless you are a celebrity or the closet blood relative of a celebrity or well-known politician, you do not need a bodyguard. And as much as your parents are trying to convince you that the giant man wearing sunglasses is for your protection, he’s really just some schmuck who finally figured out how to get paid for stalking cute college freshmen. His only really job responsibility is to report back to your parents about your every single move.
3.) A gun. While you may feel safer with a gun in your hand, the chances of you ever needing to use it are incredibly slim. However, the chances of a gun ending up in the hands of your drunk roommate at 3:30 in the morning are much more likely. Bringing something like a gun (or a crossbow, or a pair of nun-chucks, etc.) to college for “protection” is about as stupid as any form of thinking goes. Your college campus already has safety measures in place, meaning if there is ever a chance you would have to pull out a gun, someone else (who is authorized and with much better training) probably already has. Weapons serve no purpose at college except as evidence to horrific accidents. Leave your throwing stars at home.
Things you DO need:
For the most part, think of the basics. You’re going to need something to store you valuables in safely, like a dorm safe, some basic locks (trust me, if you’re going to be living with roommmates you’re going to want some of those), some pepper spray, and if you’re going to be living off campus; a fire extinguisher.
Be safe, right?!