How to Stay Safe and Alert on College Campuses
By ISU PD Officer Anthony Greiter
College campuses are meant to be a place for higher education and growth. However, campuses are becoming playgrounds for theft, assaults, and violent situations. It has become more crucial than ever for college students across the nation to learn the importance of personal safety and self-protection. We had the opportunity to talk with Officer Greiter of the Iowa State University Police Department on ways to make sure students and faculty can be safe, cautious, and protected while on campus.
Q: Any suggestions for walking around campus at night, and what is the safest way to walk alone?
A: When walking at night, try to stay in well-lit areas and always keep your cell phone with you. With a decent charge and your local police department’s non-emergency number saved as a contact, your cell phone can be your greatest safety tool. If you’re uncomfortable walking, consider your options for getting a ride. Many colleges and universities offer a free shuttle or ride during night hours.
Q: Tips for securing your room and valuable possessions such as passports, banking statements, and expensive possessions?
A: Nobody deserves to be the victim of a crime. No matter what preventative actions you take, someone may still choose to victimize you.
Whether items are kept in your room, a vehicle, or a safe, always lock your valuables and personal information. It only takes a few seconds for someone to step into a room to take a laptop sitting on a desk. No matter how long you plan to be away from an area, lock any valuables that remain. If you’re in a public location, take your valuables with you everywhere you go – even to the bathroom!
Q: Do you recommend taking a self-defense course, or carrying pepper spray?
A: Before carrying pepper spray, consider checking with your college or university and local law enforcement to make sure it’s permitted in your area. If you choose to carry pepper spray or any other personal defense mechanism, understand how to use it and test it in a safe location on a regular basis. All self-defense mechanisms are worthless if you aren’t prepared to use them properly. Similarly, self-defense courses can provide great knowledge about how to use your surroundings to your advantage. But if you think you’ll be a ninja after one course, think again.
Q: How important is it to learn about and understand your campus’ security programs?
A: Your campus security or police department is there to help you enjoy your college experience in a safe way. At the Iowa State University Police Department, we recognize students will make decisions that may or may not align with state law and college or university policies. Our goal is to encourage intelligent decisions and safe practices no matter what choices are made.
If you’re interested in learning more about your campus police department or security program, just ask! If your local police department or campus security is on social media, that’s a great place to learn more about them; you can find us at @ISUPDon Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (though our Twitter game is especially strong). You can often find us at college or university events and we’re happy to talk to you about what we can do to make your experience better.
Q: If you find yourself in a dangerous situation, what would be the first step you should take to remove yourself from the situation?
A: The safest place to be during a dangerous situation is… someplace else. Leave the area as soon as possible. If you can help remove others from the dangerous situation, that’s an added bonus. As soon as it’s safe to do so, please call law enforcement so we can begin to address the situation and prevent further escalation.
Iowa State University Police Department Officer Anthony Greiter