As much as we all don’t want to think about it, college campuses aren’t always the safest places. Whether you’re at your home campus or studying abroad, it helps to have some safety tips.
It can be scary living on a college campus, but there are a lot of great resources out there to help you. Following these tips can make you feel safer and more confident.
1. Take a self-defense class
Taking a self-defense class can be one of the most beneficial ways to learn how to protect yourself. Maci Nordone, a sophomore who took a college-sponsored self-defense class, says, “It felt empowering to know some self-defense tactics so I could start to feel more confident about defending myself if necessary.”
Tsahi Shemesh, the chief Krav Maga instructor at International Krav Maga New York, teaches self-defense classes and encourages all participants to “know how to fight back by yourself and [not to] wait for anyone else to save you.”
Shemesh says in a typical class, the instructor chooses one scenario to break down. He explains that if you practice how to react in real-life situations, you’ll feel calm and confident instead of freezing up if such a situation ever arises.
A directory of different self-defense classes can be found using the R.A.D. Systems Database. All of the classes are taught by certified teachers who cover various self-defense methods and techniques for handling real-life situations.
2. Download the OnWatchOnCampus app
The OnWatchOnCampus app is a White-House-approved smartphone app that makes reaching your emergency contacts and the police much easier in threatening situations. With the app open, it only takes two taps to call the police and your nearby friends. You can also set a timer for any time when you’re worried about your safety, such as if you’re walking home late at night. When the timer goes off, you’ll be prompted to enter a code. If you don’t respond to the prompt, the app will automatically call the authorities and share your location. Although the service requires a paid subscription ($0.99 per month), the app is free to download and comes with a free 30-day trial.
3. Walk in a group
Your kindergarten teacher was right about this: The buddy system works! Whether you’re going to a party, leaving a club meeting at night or walking home from the library after dark, it’s useful to have a buddy.
When going to a party, pick a friend to check in with every once in a while. Make sure that she’s safe and ask her to do the same for you. Then, at the end of the party, leave together and text each other when you’re both home safe. Being responsible for someone else and having her be responsible for you will keep you both safe throughout the night. That’s what friends are for!
4. Take out your earphones
Although it’s great to jam to some Beyoncé after a long day at school, it’s better to listen to what’s happening around you. By taking out your earphones and listening to your surroundings, your brain will be able to focus on any safety hazards.
Shemesh warns against holding your phone in your hand or listening to music while walking alone. “Don’t trust objects to save you…[and] be aware of your surroundings,” he says.
Pay attention to any people following you, loud noises, traffic or potentially uncomfortable situations such as intoxicated and angry people nearby. When you’re attuned to what’s going on around you, you can take a simple action such as crossing the street to the empty side of the sidewalk in order to save you a lot of trouble.
Don’t be afraid to be on your own! Instead, take control of your safety. Although these suggestions are just a few of the activities you can do to keep safe, they are a great place to start. To get more tips on campus safety and self-defense, contact your local or campus police force to ask for information.