Does Your School Need an Update?

I’m sure you have all heard the phrase, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” at one point or another. And while this phrase is certainly useful in certain occasions, there are situations when this way of thinking is downright dangerous. Your school’s role in the level of your safety, unfortunately, happens to be one of them.

Folks, let’s get completely honest for a second here: the world is changing and it’s changing fast. If your school isn’t continually updating their safety procedures, you are in danger. In fact, you’re probably in more danger than you even realize.

An example you say? Why certainly!

Just this month, a student was raped, in her dorm, by four unknown students that did not reside in that dorm. Just how did they get in? They were signed in, by a student that didn’t know them. Now even though this is a blatant violation on both the part of the student signing in people they didn’t know as well as the individual that let them go (they required only 3 out of the 4 students to sign in), there’s an even larger problem at stake. All it took was for a few people to convince someone to sign them in and the entire dorm was at their mercy. Now I don’t know about you, but I’m the kind of person that jumps at the chance to help someone out. Of course I tell myself I would never sign in someone I don’t know, but change the circumstances a little bit and I easily could’ve been in the same situation.

What if it was snowing outside and they just wanted to sit in the lobby? I’d sign them in so they could sit where it was nice and warm. Sure it meant they could go upstairs, but I’d trust them not to. Bad idea? Definitely.

The problem here lies mostly with the school. A policy that requires you to be signed in by someone you may or may not know means it just takes one little white lie to get you in the door. In this case, the school is revisiting their security policy as well as conducting regular floor meetings to reiterate the school’s safety policies.

So what do you think should happen? Should the student that signed the individuals in be punished? What if the student did know them and they ended up raping someone without the student’s knowledge, should they still be punished?

Do you have any ideas for a possible policy change that might prevent this sort of thing from occurring in the future? What kind of dorm security policy to you have at your school? Do you think it’s adequate or that it needs to be updated?

Let us know, we’d love to hear your opinions on this matter!

In the meantime, don’t forget to check out our store (www.secureoncampus.com) to pick up some personal safety equipment of your own like various personal alarms and pepper spray.

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3 Alcohol Rules in College

Let’s face it; there’s a lot of drinking that goes on at college. Now that doesn’t mean that if you don’t drink you can’t hang out, after all I have been to countless parties where as soon as someone realizes I’m the designated driver, they make sure I know of the non-alcoholic drink options. And there have also been plenty of times where I have ended up drinking more than I probably should have. Either way though, there are some rules you need to follow if you plan on consuming alcohol during your time at college.

1.) Know who you’re drinking with. I’m not encouraging anyone to get blackout drunk by any means, but if you do happen to get a little too drunk at least you know you’ll be taken care of. Getting sloshed at a frat house with 100 strangers is never a good idea. Drinking not only impairs your judgment, but also you’re ability to defend yourself. Rape is the common violent crime on US campuses today, and alcohol plays a huge role in that crime. Be smart about who you drink around.

2.) Know your limit. As I mentioned above, getting blackout drunk is never a good idea. Not only does it put you in danger because you can’t function (yes, it happens, a friend of mine was killed in a fire a few years ago when he was too drunk to get out of the building), but it could actually kill you. Alcohol poisoning is often the butt of jokes around college campuses, but the dangers of it are very real. Either set a limit for yourself before the night begins, or have a sober friend in charge of cutting you off. And if you continually can’t seem to find your limit when you drink, you might want to consider not drinking at all. Babysitting you every time you all go out is going to get very old very quick.

3.) Arrange for transportation ahead of time. Going out without arranging for a ride home later puts you at the mercy of whomever you happen to come across. Sure your buddy might say to call whenever you need a ride, but if they fell asleep and can’t hear their phone you’re going to end up stranded. Have a few backup options and at least one fail-safe  If one member of your group isn’t the designated driver, you need to have someone else in mind that will come get you when you need to go home. Maybe you have the number for a cab or “The Tipsy Trolley” on speed dial. As a last resort, you can even call campus security to come pick you up. As long as you realize that you should never, ever, EVER, get into a car with someone you don’t know (yes, even if they have candy) and you should never, ever, EVER drive after you’ve had a few.

And if you ever do find yourself in a risky situation (we hope you don’t), make sure to have a variety of self-defense items on hand, like pepper spray or a personal alarm. Don’t forget to check out our store (www.secureoncampus.com) for even more personal safety items!

How to Negotiate in a Confrontational Situation

Safety isn’t just about knowing what to do when something happens to you, it’s also about knowing how to avoid making a situation worse, and whether you’re at a party and fight starts up or you’re trying to discuss your final grade with a hostile professor, you’re going to want to handle the situation in the best possible way. Otherwise, you could end up getting clocked in the face, or worse, a horrible, undeserved final grade.

1.) Speak softly and move slowly. There’s a common difference between people who don’t get in fights and people that do get in fights: people that don’t get in fights have mastered the art of being non-threatening, and when you are non-threatening it means the other person has no reason to get defensive.

2.) Use “I” terms instead of “You” terms. You may have heard this suggestion before, but what does it mean? Well here’s an example: instead of saying, “You’re not making any sense,” say something like, “I can’t seem to understand what you’re saying.” Using “you” terms puts the blame on the other person, while using “I” terms shifts the problem to yourself. You’re essentially taking credit for the lack of communication, which once again makes it difficult for the other person to become defensive.

3.) Affirm their viewpoint. Acknowledging their perspective will also help to keep down their level of defensiveness. Say something to your busy professor along the lines of, “Hey, I know that you have a million things to do right now, but I’d really appreciate it if I could talk to you about my grade for a second.” And if you’re trying to keep your buddy from knocking out a random stranger at a house party, starting off your statement with, “Look, we all know that guy is a total douche but…” and then make your intelligent point.

4.) Ask open ended questions. Open ended questions give the other person a chance to express what is actually bothering them. Questions that end in yes and no aren’t going to get you anywhere. A flustered roommate probably isn’t mad at you; they probably have a lot on their mind and are taking it out on you. As soon as you get to what’s really on their mind, things will run more smoothly around the house. So instead of asking if you both should watch a movie tonight, ask them what kind of movie they’re in the mood for. Their answer should lead to further conversation.

5.) Know when to quit. Sometimes it’s just time to give up. That doesn’t mean you’ve lost the battle, necessarily, it simply means you’re avoiding making anything worse. If you’re trying to negotiate with someone and it starts becoming pretty clear that you aren’t going to be making any progress anytime soon, it might be time to call it a night. Cut your losses and if possible visit the situation at a later time.

And remember, if the situation can’t be deescalated, it’s always important to carry some sort of personal safety device, like a personal alarm or some pepper spray. Check out our store (www.secureoncampus.com) for even more dorm safety equipment!

Safety Advice from a Home Burglar

If there’s anyone you’d be wary of taking advice from, it would probably be a known criminal. Still, when it comes to home safety (especially if you’re living off campus) this is probably the best person you could possibly talk to. After all, they’re the ones looking for cracks in your home’s lockdown capabilities. So what are some things a criminal gets rather excited to see when looking for a target? Read, learn, and keep yourself safe.

1.) “I’ve probably been here before.” A crook isn’t going to waste time on a home that has little to offer on the inside. Chances are they’ve already taken a look around your place. Whether they were here last week fixing your internet, talking to you about the upcoming election or were trying to sell you a set of steak knives, they’ve found some way into your house to look around a bit. Be cautious who you let into your home, even if it seems fairly innocent. There’s nothing wrong with making someone give you their sales pitch on your front stoop instead of in your living room.

2.) “I can tell when you’ve been gone awhile.” Yes, it’s true: a pile of newspapers on your doorstep or mail falling out of your mailbox is a dead giveaway that your home is unattended. This isn’t so much of a problem if you have roommates, but if you live alone or all your roommates are gone at the same time (you’re all on a university sports team), you could be at risk. It’s also a common tactic for a potential burglar to attach a flyer in your doorway (maybe a Chinese takeout menu) to see how long it stays there. Plus, when it snows, a lack of fresh tracks leading to the door is a dead giveaway. So are those giants snow drifts in your driveway; it means you don’t even have a neighbor stopping to check up on things. Jackpot.

3.) “I always check bedside drawers, dressers and the medicine cabinet.” So forget about that stash of money you’re hiding in your sock drawer, that’ll probably be the first thing that gets found. Oh and that safe that you’re convinced no one is going to get into? If it’s not bolted down or attached to something, it’ll just be loaded up along with everything else. One piece of advice when it comes to hiding things though, crooks hardly ever look in children’s rooms. And speaking of kids…

4.) “Your kids’ belongings broadcast your wealth.”  If you’re a single parent all those toys your kids leave lying around the yard give criminals an idea of what kind of money you’re able to spend. Sure you might be a broke college student, but they don’t know that. If your kids have some serious toys out front, it’s perfectly reasonable to assume they have an expensive gaming system and their own personal laptops inside.

5.) “Sound is your friend.” A flashing television, music, or a loud dog is a perfect deterrent for a burglar. And while it’s perfectly acceptable to turn appliances off when you leave town, it’s smart to invest in a device that has the flickering glow of a television and works on a timer.

6.) “Stop broadcasting your whereabouts.” It’s incredibly easy to find your Facebook page and just wait until you post, “Heading to the airport! Cabo here we come!” It’s also easy to wait for “check-in” of “At MacKenzie River Pizza with 3 others.” Then a burglar knows there’s a pretty good chance your stuff is up for grabs.

Make sure to check out all of our dorm (or off-campus) safety equipment at http://www.secureoncampus.com!