How To Succeed in College/Safety and Security
At many colleges and universities across the US, safety is a prominent concern. In 1990, the Clery Act was passed to make it a requirement for schools to release all information regarding crime in the surrounding area. This act made it easy for people to see the safety of schools before committing to a university with high crime rates in the area. The act has encouraged universities to be more open about criminal activity in the surrounding area. Many universities now send emails to all students, faculty, and staff whenever a criminal act occurs in the immediate vicinity of the university. Despite the increased efforts of colleges and universities to make this information available, there is some evidence that students either do not pay attention to it or do not take it all that seriously. Forty percent of students report receiving a crime report in an admissions packet, but 81% weren't sure if incoming students looked at the report when deciding on a school and only 6% said they thought students use it.
To facilitate campus safety and security, many schools have a fully-functional police force, as well as victim advocate programs, criminal activity alerts, and sensor activated and restricted access dorms. As much effort as schools put towards safety, some of the responsibility does fall on the student. Many students are taking personal steps to insure their safety, including: traveling with another person around campus, not staying out late, and staying in safer parts of the surrounding town or city.
While college campuses are generally quite safe, a concern female students, in particular, face is sexual assault. There are a variety of situations that increase the risks of sexual assault, and women should be aware of these (though of course victims are never responsible when such an assault takes place). For instance, accepting a ride with a male acquaintance, leaving a drink unattended at a bar or party, or allowing someone else to pour or buy you a drink can be risky situations as someone could take advantage of those situations to assault or drug someone. Some research suggests that female students do not perceive these as being risky. While most women recognized the risks associated with having someone else pour them a drink, many did not recognize the risk of leaving a drink unattended. Additional education on college campuses about behaviors that may leave women open to these risks is warranted. While the perpetrators are at fault, until women are no longer at risk of victimization they should consider taking precautions.
- Steven, M. J., & Plummer, E. (2005). The clery act, campus safety and the views of assault victim advocates. College Student Affairs Journal, 25(1), 116-130.
- Crawford, Emily, Margaret O’Dougherty Wright, and Zachary Birchmeier. 2008. “Drug-Facilitated Sexual Assault: College Women’s Risk Perception and Behavioral Choices.” Journal of American College Health 57(3):261-272.