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Staying Safe on Campus: A Non-exhaustive Guide

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

For many people, this new semester is their first time ever being away from home. It’s a daunting yet exciting feeling to spread your wings and see where your college experience will take you. All the while, it is important to keep in mind that crime and violence exist on college campuses and be aware of what actions you can take to ensure your safety this year.

Share your location with friends or family

When I first came to campus, my friends and I set up a “Circle” on the Life360 app that we use to this day. With this app, we are able to see the location and phone battery percentages of anyone in the Circle. While it may not be feasible for you to share your location with your family, I’ve found creating a Circle with my family members helpful in its own way. There’s been more than one occasion when I was stuck in traffic and my mom or dad gave me a call to make sure I hadn’t gotten in an accident. Regardless of who you share your location with, Life360 and similar apps can be helpful safety tools. 

Take advantage of campus transportation services

Walking on campus late at night or even taking public transportation can be risky and dangerous. Many campuses have complimentary transportation systems to help students get where they are going safely. For example, at VCU we have RamSafe, a point-to-point bus system available between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. every day of the year.

Only meet up with a stranger in a public space

If you’re attending college right after high school, chances are you recently turned 18 and have already delved into the sometimes-wonderful-sometimes-bizarre world of dating apps. Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, and similar apps can be a great way to meet new people on campus, however, extra caution should be taken when meeting up with matches from these apps. A good rule of thumb is to never meet a stranger at their home or yours. Keep first dates to public spaces and public spaces only. No matter how nice they may seem over messages, coffee shops and public parks are great places to meet someone for the first time.

Inform yourself about the behavior of abusive partners

According to Healing Abuse Working for Change, college-aged women experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence, and about 70% of victims do not realize they are being abused by their partners. Domestic violence is a slow build of dangerous behaviors, so it is important to be aware of red flags as early as possible. The University of North Carolina School of Medicine listed a few, such as controlling behavior, blaming others for their problems and emotions, the playful use of force during sex and breaking objects. There are many helpful resources online for victims of domestic abuse and information on how to identify abusive partners.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.

Follow your intuition

Above all, trust your intuition. If you find yourself in a situation and something just doesn’t feel right for you, get out. You may often have a frame of mind that something bad absolutely cannot happen to you, which could lead you to ignore that feeling in your stomach or the thought that passed your mind. Listen to your instincts, and understand why that feeling happened.

Emily Richardson is a digital journalism student at Virginia Commonwealth University and HCVCU's Editor-in-Chief. She has contributed to a number of independent publications and has interests in social issues, sustainability and pop culture.