3 Essential College Safety Tips for Students
Many students will be back at college campus this fall, some for the first time since the pandemic started. As if the first taste of independence, responsibility, and changing social expectations weren’t hard enough already, another difficult topic is personal safety. News coverage would have you believe that college is nothing more than a series of drunken frat parties night after night. Thankfully the college scene is much tamer than the movies, that said dangers do exist, and students should be aware.
The most common date rape drug is alcohol.
Three Things You Can Do to Reduce Risk
1. Safety In Numbers
It sounds like common sense, go with friends, don’t let yourself be isolated with someone you don’t know. Yet how many times has a friend snuck off with that guy she had a crush on leaving you solo without your “wingman” or BFF at your side? Your friend stayed home sick when you wanted to go out? etc.
– Keep in public areas with plenty of people.
– Have a plan and a promise to leave together.
– Don’t go if it doesn’t feel safe, even if your friend goes.
Even if your friend breaks the plan or promise and decides to go or stay somewhere unsafe, don’t be pressured into doing anything you aren’t comfortable with. Encourage them to leave with you, and if you can’t then make sure you know where they will be so you can send help if they stop checking in or an emergency occurs.
Sticking with friends and in public places isn’t just a party scene safety measure, this is a great tool for risk mitigation in all social settings, even outside of college.
2. Know Your Limits
The most common date rape drug is alcohol. (worth repeating twice)
That drink hitting you harder than thought it would? Chances are most people are going to drink at least once in college. Having a couple of drinks in moderation isn’t the end of the world, that said drinking yourself stupid doesn’t impress anyone, and getting drunk is the riskiest activity you can participate in. Even a “buzz” can impair your ability to stay safe both physically and mentally. Alcohol, can sneak up on you either gradually or hit you hard, either way give yourself a 1 or 2 drink limit.
Many predators rely on common drugs and/or alcohol to incapacitate their victims so they can commit sexual assault or rape.
– Don’t consume drinks you aren’t familiar with, if you are with strangers.
– Avoid homemade brews or alcohol.
– Give yourself a 1 or 2 drink limit.
– Don’t let your drink leave your sight.
– Only Accept Sealed Drinks!
The worst experience I had in college drinking was homemade apple cider at a party. It was very smooth and the effects of the alcohol didn’t hit me until I had consumed way too much and was nearly to the point of alcohol poisoning. I remember walking back to my apartment alone and nearly choking and passing out from my own vomit. It is a pretty terrible feeling, and I was incredibly vulnerable to all sorts of mishaps that night.
3. Have Emergency Contacts, SOS setup, and the Safe Ride number
A great guide on setting up SOS on your phone is available through the CU Boulder Website “SOS: Tips for Utilizing Your Smartphone in an Emergency“. On top of this know the friends who are reliable and are available that would drop anything and everything to help you if you find yourself in a potentially dangerous situation. Also don’t ever be afraid to call 911 if you suspect that you are at risk of harm.
– Set Up Your Phone’s SOS System
– Have 4 to 5 People You Can Depend On To Pick You Up
– Program Safe Ride (719)389-6340 Into Your Phone! (if located in Colorado Springs)
If you plan to go to college in Colorado Springs, one of the best programs is Safe Ride available to all college students FREE OF CHARGE! Make sure you visit the weblink and read the details so you don’t find yourself with one less resource at your disposal. If you aren’t in Colorado Springs many college towns will have a similar “Safe Ride” type program that you can utilize.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying time out with friends, and you shouldn’t live in constant fear. Keypoint is understanding what risk you take when you participate in various activities. Think ahead about things before you do them, such as how do you operate your phone to get help if you are heavily intoxicated? Are your friends flaky or are they reliable?
Last but not least, should something happen to you, the acts of a predator are NOT your fault, and someone shouldn’t be blaming you. Just understand that knowing the risks, and being able to avoid potentially dangerous situations is the best thing you can do for yourself, your friends, and everyone’s safety.
Author: Cody Rauh
Cody has taught over 1600 students life-saving skills and has been teaching self-defense since 2015. He uses his background and training in hand-to-hand combatives, abduction prevention & escape, and improvised weapons to teach students going to college or traveling outside the U.S. on how to stay safe.