An on-campus stabbing occurred around 2 AM at Boston College on September 25, 2010— just one day after two people were stabbed at Regis College in nearby Weston, Massachusetts.
The two unrelated assaults have caused college safety concerns on both campuses and in the Boston area, causing students and parents to wonder about campus safety.
Living on campus is a much different lifestyle than most young people ever experienced before their arrival. Being away from the watchful eyes of parents and living without curfews or other restrictions make it easy to hang out with friends until 3 AM, but stumbling back to your dorm alone in the wee hours of the morning isn’t a wise decision—especially if you’ve been drinking.
In most cases, dangerous events such as the stabbings that occurred at the two Boston area colleges can’t be predicted, but using common sense and learning how to be proactive about your own safety is well worth it.
Even though most college campuses seem like a safe haven for students, crimes do happen—often in combination with alcohol and drug use. Use your best judgment and simple common sense to stay safe at college.
1. Don’t let anyone follow you into your dorm building, and make sure the main entrances are always locked. You might get a few strange looks by closing the door instead of letting people trail in behind you, but people who aren’t even college students could easily sneak into a dorm building and commit a crime because they “looked like they belonged there.”
2. Keep your dorm room door and windows locked at all times as well. It’s easy to run down the hall “for just a minute” without locking your door, but that minute is more than enough time for someone to sneak into your dorm room. Lock your door behind you whenever you leave— just be sure to take your keys with you!
3. Watch your personal belongings. Some new college students make the mistake of being too trustworthy, but the truth is some people are jerks. Keep your eyes on your stuff whether in the library, in classrooms and in your own dorm room. Walking away for even a second leaves your belongings vulnerable to theft.
4. Store emergency phone numbers in your cell phone, but carry a list of them in your wallet, too. Cell phones are most college students’ lifelines. I don’t even know my own parents’ cell phone numbers because they’re stored in my phone and I know I only have to hit “Mom” or “Dad” to talk to them. Store your parents’ (and your roommates’) phone numbers in your cell phone, as well as the numbers for campus security or any other important number, but write them down on a small piece of paper and tuck it into your wallet, too. What are you going to do if someone steals your phone or you accidentally lock it in your car?
5. Share your class schedule with your roommate, and make sure someone knows where you are at all times. Keep a printout of your course schedule tacked to the wall in your door room so your roommate knows when you’ll be class. Tell them where you’re going and when you expect to be back in other situations, too. Call or send a text message if a change in plans happens while you’re out. If you don’t come home one night and they don’t know where you are, they should alert campus security. Better safe than sorry, and do the same for your roommate.
6. Don’t go out at night without a friend. Travel in groups of two or more, especially if you’re going off campus. If you’re going out with someone you just met, bring a friend that you already know well, too.
7. Use campus transportation or the security escort service after dark. Most large university campuses have shuttle services or college busses. Campus security offices offer security escort services for a reason, too. If you’re at a friend’s dorm and need to get back to your own after the shuttles have stopped running for the night, it’s easier to ask for a ride than risk walking by yourself all the way across a huge campus. You might feel embarrassed at first, but get over it— it’s safer.
8. Drink alcohol responsibly and watch your drink. If you’re going to drink, drink responsibly. Know your limits. Don’t ever put your drink down, even for a minute. Date rape drugs can be slipped into drinks instantly. Alcoholic beverages which come in a can or bottle may be the safest option—if you open them yourself and don’t let them out of your sight. You never know what could be in that opened vodka bottle before it’s poured into your cup.
9. Be assertive; know when to say no. If someone or something is making you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to leave.
10. Report any suspicious activity to campus security. If someone looks suspicious or you think something strange is going on, call campus security. Let them handle things instead of attempting to investigate on your own.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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