Though only halfway through the summer, most college-bound Americans are already planning on the back-to-school months ahead. Amidst all the packing, preparing and anticipation though, students should take care to remain vigilant for their own safety, as well as that of their newfound friends, once they arrive on campus. Here are a few tips from our partners at RAINN for navigating the new school year in as safe a manner as possible.
Trust your gut and be true to yourself: If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, trust your instincts and leave. Lie and make up an excuse to leave rather than stay and be uncomfortable, scared or worse.
Take control of your online life: Think twice before you share personal information online. Constantly posting social media updates on your whereabouts, activities or even class schedules may allow someone to track your every move. Remember this motto: “If you would not share the information with a stranger, then you shouldn’t share it online.”
Make others earn your trust: The college environment can foster a false sense of security. Don’t assume that your new friends will definitely have your back or be looking out for your best interests.
If you see something, say something: If a situation seems questionable, speak up and alert others around you to it. By intervening you can prevent a crime from being committed. Remember, you can always contact your resident assistant or campus police or call 911.
Be aware and stay alert: Whether you are hanging out at a party or walking across campus, pay attention to what is going on around you. Take well-trafficked routes and avoid being isolated with someone that you don’t know or trust. Get to know your surroundings — take notice of the blue safety light locations and don’t be hesitant to use them if necessary.
Make plans and be prepared: When going out, know ahead of time who is going and plan to stay together as a group. Construct a backup plan for the day or night that you’re going out so that all of your friends know where to meet up if someone gets separated or their phone dies.
Party smart: Guard your drink at parties. Don’t accept one from people you don’t trust or know well. Stick to drinks you prepared yourself. If you happen to walk away from it, get a new one. Keep track of what you’ve consumed so that you can stay in control. If you feel like you’re getting sick or are too intoxicated, ask someone to help you get to a safe place or to a hospital.
Be a good friend: Watch out for each other. Stick together in groups, especially when traveling from one place to the next. If anyone is intoxicated or seems to need assistance, get them to a safe place and support them. If you suspect that a friend has been drugged or needs medical attention because of over-intoxication or for any other reason, call 911.