Safety First: A Student's Guide to Campus Safety

by Ana Felce

For young adults stepping out of their family homes and creating their future, college campuses are meant to provide a safe place to do just that. Professors and staff work to make their campus a welcoming place for students, both inside the classroom and out. But what about campus safety? Considering your new freedom and environment, what can you do to make sure you stay safe? While colleges work around the clock to ensure students have a safe learning environment, there are also things you, as a student, should keep in mind. Here are some tips to help you stay safe on campus.

Use Campus Resources

Security services are available to students, staff, and faculty to help with any safety situation. Not only is there a team of officers trained to handle such situations, but they also work with other law enforcement agencies to help keep your campus safe and secure.

As a member of the college community, students can use the resources and services made available by the campus safety department to help ensure that they stay safe at college. At Azusa Pacific University, for example, if you’re on campus after hours, you can use the shuttle service or the safety escort service that will help you get around campus or back to your dorm safely. There are many other services available as well, such as bicycle registration (which helps police reunite bikes with their owners in case they are lost or stolen) and even a service for students who find themselves locked out of their on-campus housing. More services and resources can be found on the department’s web page.

Know Who to Contact

If you are ever involved in a life-threatening emergency, your first call should be 911. Getting immediate help and reporting the crime is the most important step to take. In addition, many college campuses have their own security department with officers and a contact number specifically for the school. APU has a list of emergency contact numbers students should save on their phones so they can quickly get in touch with members of the campus safety team in case they need help.

Officer Brandon Saenz, a police officer with the Azusa Police Department currently assigned to APU as the University Resource Officer (URO), reminds students that the Department of Campus Safety (DCS) is, “on campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide security and assistance to students” and that their office is located at Adam’s Hall. Saenz’s office is located within the DCS offices, and he is available Monday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Perhaps the most essential step you can take to ensure your safety is to be aware of your surroundings and avoid situations that are more likely than normal to make you the target of a crime. While the campus safety team is always there to help members of the college community, the best defense is learning how to be prepared and take the necessary precautions.

When walking at night, for example, it’s a good idea to stick to well-lit paths and walk with a friend or two if possible. It’s also important to lock your doors when you get back to your dorm. These may seem like common sense practices, but sometimes it’s the simple things that can go overlooked.

For example, hide or remove anything valuable after locking your car to avoid potential break-ins. Always take steps to prevent important items from being stolen, like putting a strong lock on your bike. However, things happen, so it’s a good idea to have your name written in your books, the serial numbers of valuables written down, and your bike registered with the Department of Campus Safety. This makes it easier for police to identify stolen items as belonging to you in case they are later recovered.

While your college will provide you ample resources and services to help keep you safe, it is important you also take action to protect yourself. Stay alert and aware, and consider programs that will help you build the tools necessary to defend yourself should you need to.