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Safety Never Takes a Holiday: A Girl’s Guide to Campus Safety

You are walking back from the library alone at midnight. It is completely dark aside from the lights lining the pathway and cold enough that you zip up your coat. You stroll along, texting a friend or checking your Facebook, having no doubt that you will make it to your dorm safe and sound. It is easy to forget the number of bad things that could happen over the course of that ten-minute walk.
As students at Washington University, we are extremely fortunate to have such a beautiful, safe, and welcoming campus. On-campus crime, especially violence, is rare, and our own personal police department helps to protect both students and faculty alike during night and day. Regardless of how safe our school is, we must always remember to be aware of our surroundings, for Washington University is not completely impervious to the dangers of the outside world.
In light of recent events, we spoke to a campus police officer, a campus security guard, and a self-defense instructor, and have compiled what we have learned onto a short list of tips about how to be cautious on and off campus.
1. Use the buddy system. Avoid walking or exercising, especially after dark.
2. If you have to be alone… For on-campus girls, use the Circulator, a safe and reliable way to arrive safely and quickly to your destination. If you live off campus, take “Campus2Home,” a shuttle that will take you from campus right to your door, leaving every 30 minutes from 7pm-4am. The driver will even watch you enter your home. 
3. Sketchy guy? Keep your distance, even if you have to run. Don’t worry about looking silly or offending a harmful man- you’re better safe than sorry.
4. Nervous in a cab? Either pretend to be on the phone or call a friend and state the cab number and driver’s name. Ask the driver how long the ride will be, then let your friend know your estimated time of arrival, loudly and clearly.
5. Be aware of your surroundings. Be cautious of where you are and who is around you. Avoid distractions such as texting while you are in public places, especially during the night.
6. Project confidence. If you carry yourself like a victim, you are more likely to become one. By standing up straight, being alert, and moving briskly you are less likely to be seen as a target.
7. Get educated. The Washington University Police Department offers free self-defense programs. For more information, call the Crime Prevention office at (314)-935-5084.

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