Remember these safety tips on campus

Unfortunately, gone are the days where parents blithely sent their children off to idyllic college campuses worry-free. Until relatively recently,  safety was something that was just mentioned on campus tours and everyone was satisfied to know that the “blue lights”  have an amazingly fast response time from campus security.

But, parents and many students are now actively concerned about how colleges handle security issues. This is especially true when something happens to someone they know.

However, most students still assume nothing can go wrong in their “college bubble.” They often get caught up in a false sense of security. But, unfortunately, bad things do happen. Here are some suggestions of ways for students to stay safe on a college campus:

Don’t walk alone after dark. Use the campus escort service. If you must walk alone, stay alert, don’t listen to your iPod and don’t stop at an ATM. Be sure to walk on well-lit paths and know where the emergency phones are located. Know the number for campus security; plug it into your cell phone. Keep the cell phone handy so you can make a call, if necessary.

Make sure someone knows where you are at all times. Text when you arrive safely at your destination.

Enter your “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) numbers in your cell phone. ICE is commonly known by security forces, police departments and paramedics. If something happens, it will speed up contact with your loved ones. Also, know the phone numbers you will need to call to cancel your credit/debit cards if your wallet is stolen.

According to the Parents’ Guide to College Life and a survey done by Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, more than 100,000 property crimes on college campuses are reported to police each year and thieves make off with an average of $1,250 in stolen student property per theft.

Get a locking device for your laptop. Ask someone to watch your belongings when you head to the restroom or take a break at the library.

Lock your dorm room door at all times. People in first-floor dorm rooms should also lock their windows.  About 25 percent of all college-age women are victims of rape or attempted rape. Feelings of invincibility by male students lead them to riskier behavior than their common sense would dictate. Approximately 1,700 students die from alcohol-related injuries each year.

Avoid drinking too much. Do not accept a drink from anyone other than a bartender. Date rape drugs are easily slipped into drinks. Never go home with a stranger. Bring enough money to pay for a taxi back to your dorm, if necessary.

Despite these statistics, college campuses are still generally very safe places. Still, the best bet is to be smart and be vigilant.

Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;