by Geri Lynn Utter
Believe it or not studying in your dorm room is more dangerous than you think.
Picture yourself falling asleep in your dorm room after you had been studying for a psychology final.
Suddenly, the door opens and you awaken to see an unfamiliar face hovering over you while shoving a gag into your mouth to prevent you from screaming.
Then imagine being brutally beaten, raped, or possibly murdered and robbed just because you happened to be a female resident that fell asleep with your door unlocked.
This is exactly what happened to Jeanne Ann Clery at her Lehigh University dorm room in 1986. Jeanne’s murderer was drunk and under the influence of drugs at the time of Jeanne’s murder, but this does not excuse the cold-blooded murder of an innocent 20-year old young woman.
Did Jeanne deserve to be murdered because she neglected to lock her dorm room? Should the security on campus have been more attentive to the students’ needs?
If you agree with the latter statement that security on campus should be more attentive to the students, hence the word `security,’ the following campus safety tips will help both the students and campus security achieve a well- protected and safer campus for all.
Safety Tips for Students:
Study the campus with respect to routes between your residence and class/activities schedule. Know where all working call boxes are located.
Create a buddy system by sharing your class/activities schedule with your close friends and parents. Remember to also give telephone numbers to members of your buddy list.
Always travel in groups. Use the shuttle service or campus security after dark to transport you from one building to another. Never walk alone and avoid shortcuts.
Survey the campus, academic buildings, residence halls, and other facilities while classes are in session and after dark to see that buildings, parking lots and walkways are adequately secured, lit and patrolled. Are call boxes, escorts and shuttle services adequate?
Residents’ assistants and campus security make sure people are behaving responsibly while under the influence of alcohol. Remember alcohol and/or drug abuse is involved in 90% of campus crime.
Card-access systems are far superior to standard metal key and lock systems. Card access enables immediate lock changes when keys are lost, stolen or housing assignments change; however, access cards should not include students addresses and social security numbers. Including a student’s social security number and address on an access card is a problem if a student loses his/her card.
Always lock your doors and 1st and 2nd floor windows at night. Never compromise your safety for a roommate who asks you to leave the door unlocked.
Dorms should have a central entrance/exit lobby where nighttime access is monitored, as well as an outside telephone which visitors must use to gain access.
Dorm residents should insist that resident assistants and campus security conduct routine checks for propped doors during both day and night.
Do not leave your identification, wallets, checkbooks, jewelry, cameras and other valuables in open view.
Program your telephone’s speed-dial memory with emergency numbers that include family and friends.
Know your neighbors and do not be reluctant to report illegal activities and suspicious loitering.
Campus Safety Evaluation
Q: Does the institution publish campus crime information as required by the Jeanne Clery Act? (Request a copy)
Q: Are Security Logs open for public inspection?
Q: Does the school ask applicants if they have been arrested and convicted of a crime? Do they admit applicants with a criminal history?
Q: Are campus crime penalties and policies explicitly addressed during orientation, as well as prominently stipulated in the student handbook?
Q: Are drinking, drug and weapon laws strictly enforced?
Q: Are bathroom doors in co-ed dorms secured with master locks for floor residents?
Q: Are single sex and substance-free dormitories available?
Q: Does the school address the entire student body during the academic year about growing problems related to campus crime: date rape and sexual assault, alcohol and drug abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases? When? Who addresses the students?
Q: Does the school have an open judicial committee? How many and what type of cases did the judicial committee handle last year?
Q: Does the school provide immediate medical, psychological, and legal aid to victims, as required by the Campus Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights (Federal Law 1992)?
What conclusion did you come to after reviewing the Campus Safety Evaluation? 80% of campus crime is student-on-student.
*The following information was obtained from www.soconline.org and www.campussafety.org.