Campus Safety and Security: A Team Effort

There is no “I” in team, however there is an “I” in security and community! Security really begins with students realizing that safety, for the most part, is an individual responsibility. Students must realize that the campus is like any other community that is made up of individuals, and, as a result, it will see both good and bad days. Keeping their community healthy and positive depends on their awareness of what’s going on around them as well as the availability of safety and security support programs that are provided by the school.

By being aware of their surroundings and anticipating the kinds of dangerous situations that could arise, students can better cope with negative situations, protect themselves from harm, and keep their peers safe and secure.

Become Familiar with University Safety Services and Procedures

It’s encouraged that students become familiar with the published campus safety and security procedures that cover crime, as well as the emergency response and preparedness plans for events such as natural disasters. This information should be readily available and easy to access through your school’s online services.

Virtually every college provides some form of on-campus security to protect students, faculty, and staff in the case of an emergency. University safety and security services differ depending on the size of the campus, the specific needs of the institution, and the impact or influence of the local community. Services range from protective and preventative measures to set procedures and training on how to deal with both natural and criminal emergencies.

Personal and Campus Safety: Keeping Students Safe from Assault

No one wants to be a victim of crime. By using common sense, staying alert, and taking steps to protect oneself, students can take steps to prevent personal assault on campus or off.

Consider adding these personal-safety guidelines, provided by the National Crime Prevention Council, to your campus’ student safety resources:

On the street

  • Keep your head up and walk with a purpose; make eye contact with people you pass on the street.
  • Be alert to what's going on around you; keep your focus outward, not inward.
  • Avoid alleys, deserted streets, and isolated public parks. Stick with the crowd.
  • Wear comfortable shoes you can walk or run in.
  • Walk up to a residence, store, or emergency firebox if you believe you're being followed.

In your car

  • Keep your car well maintained and your gas tank at least one-quarter full.
  • Keep car doors locked and windows rolled up.
  • Have your car keys in hand when approaching your car.
  • Park close to the building you'll be entering or near the center of a lot. Avoid parking around the lot's edges or next to an occupied vehicle.
  • Before getting in the car, check the front and back seats to be sure no one is hiding inside.
  • Park in well-lighted areas. Avoid back streets, alleys, and isolated parking garages. Don't go home or to your dorm if you believe someone is following you. Instead, drive to a police station, fire station, or a business with visible security personnel on duty.

Daily schedule

  • Inform security, peers, or a family member if you're going to work or study late and when you expect to be back. Leave the building with a peer or security escort.
  • Leave a record of your appointments with a peer; let someone know where you're going and when you expect to return when leaving for off campus activities.
  • Be careful in stairwells and elevators. Avoid using dark or isolated stairwells. Stand next to the control panel while riding in an elevator with a stranger. If you're attacked, punch all the floor buttons so the door will open on each floor. Yell for assistance every time it opens.
  • Trust your intuition. If someone in an elevator appears threatening or suspicious, get out and alert security.
  • Use a buddy system. Tell a peer when you're going to the restroom or running an errand.

(CU Thrive; Wellness Library Health Ink and Vitality Communications ©2015)

Security Services on College Campuses

On many college campuses, students may have access to a variety of security services to make their time at the college or university as safe as possible. It is really up to the individual students to be aware of and leverage these campus security services. Common campus security services and safety resources include:

  • Free transportation to students at night or on weekends.
  • Seminars or training courses for students to learn safety tactics, personal defense, and how to avoid becoming a target for violence.
  • Safety patrols and/or escorts to the residence halls or other campus buildings.
  • Call boxes.
  • Emergency numbers and links to departments or organizations for additional support.
  • CU Thrive – The mission of CU Thrive is to strengthen the ability for students to thrive during their college or university experience by providing the knowledge, skills, community, and peer-to-peer connection they need to cope with daily life issues. This on-demand, online program engages students to learn, share, and lead in a way that helps foster resilience and enhance overall student wellness and quality of life.

Beyond Personal Responsibility: Fostering a Safe and Secure Campus Community

While the “I” in security and community ultimately reflects how a student should take responsibility for his or her own personal safety, the campus as a whole - faculty, staff, and students - can work together to help maintain a healthy, safe, and positive environment at your institution. Safety and security are everyone’s responsibility at your college or university, and fostering a campus of engaged, prepared participants improves the quality of the higher education experience for all.

For more information about NASPA’s CU Thrive program and the ways it can support your school’s existing safety, security, student engagement, and persistence programs, please contact Mike Norris at [email protected].

Additional NASPA Resources for Creating a Safe Campus:

Campus safety and violence prevention is a complex and delicate issue, but one that is vital to the health and wellbeing of today’s students. For additional information about how to create a safe and supportive campus community, explore NASPA’s Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Knowledge Community, which offers a wealth of resources related to campus safety, campus emergencies, sexual assault awareness, and more.

Author: Mike Norris, Director of Business Development for NASPA’s CU Thrive program. Mike has a degree in Business from the University of Maryland, College Park, MD and has 35+ years of marketing and sales experience with a specific focus on higher education.