We all want to make sure we’re going to be on a safe campus, but figuring out which schools are safer than others tends to be a little easier said than done. After all, every school wants more students, so the every campus security officer (on any campus) is probably going to tell you the same thing when asked if their campus is a safe place: “Yes.”
So how do you get around the fluff? Here are a few tactics to get you the straightforward answers you need to know to make an informed decision.
1.) Ask other students. As mentioned earlier, asking Campus Security about campus security is a bit of a conflict of interest. If they are having problems (say, constant theft or vandalizing), they’re never going to tell you about it. Likewise, your campus tour guide also has a job of making the school reflects in the highest light possible, so the actual crime statistics are either going to get glossed over (“Sorry, I really don’t know the numbers on that…”) or manipulated (“We haven’t had a recorded on-campus assault in over 10 years…” but then they leave off the part about being #3 in the nation for reported assaults.) So ask the other students, most of them will be happy to tell you. Some questions:
Do you generally feel safe on campus?
Do you know of anyone that has had issues with campus crime?
Are there any problems you know about (like don’t bring your laptop to class unless you want someone will wrestle it from you)?
2.) Talk to the housing department about their policies. In actuality, it really doesn’t matter how safe a campus is if there is nothing put in place to prevent campus crime if it could potentially happen. Case in point: dorm policies. Just taking a quick look around will be able to give you some answers. Can you see in the windows? Are there doors propped open? Is there someone else on staff that’s keeping an eye out while you’re there asking another staff member questions? And speaking of questions, here are a few to ask:
What time do the main doors lock?
Are visitors required to check in?
What’s your policy on overnight guests?
What kind of surveillance does campus security use? Do they circle the parking lot every hour? Are there cameras set up outside?
3.) Get a copy of the crime statistics. Yes, you need to do this. Every school has some kind of record of the amount of crime that happens on campus, including the number of reported offenses. You may need to get this from campus security, but it will be a huge help in determining if it’s the school for you. A school may have a low crime rate, but that number could be misleading if students are reporting things and nothing is being done about them. If the number of reported offenses is low, that’s usually a good indication of a safe campus.
What are some ways you check to make sure your school is safe?
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