Tips: Choose A Safe College, University

Despite terrible incidents of violence that have been reported on a few college and university campuses in the U.S. and Canada, most are generally safe places. However, there are many common campus crimes such as theft, robbery, rape and assault that regularly occur. In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice reports that one in five women will be the victim of attempted or actual sexual assault during their college careers.

Patrick V. Fiel, public safety advisor for ADT Security Services said, "As high school students and their parents consider college choices, they need to look beyond academics and extra-curricular activities to choose campuses that also make student safety a priority."

As parents and students tour college campuses this spring, Fiel and ADT recommend the following campus safety tips to help parents and students make that important college choice with safety in mind:

  • Check campus crime rates and statistics. The federal Jeanne Clery Act of 1998 requires publicly funded schools and colleges to publish annual crime statistics for their campuses. All college students should be able to check campus safety by obtaining crime rates for their potential campus before visiting. Many campuses post this report on the police or security pages of their Web sites.
  • Make sure the campus offers police escort services. Escort services, provided by community service or police officers, can add another layer of security for students who might find themselves studying late on campus. Escort services can help students navigate their campuses more safely and should be made available around the clock.
  • Make sure all student housing facilities have cardkey-controlled entries and security cameras. Access to student housing should be limited to residents only and all visitors should be identified and registered before being allowed to enter. Security-card based access control systems enhance student safety by keeping unwanted visitors out. Security cameras act as deterrents to crime and can provide valuable evidence when incidents do occur. Also, video can be used to monitor issues happening real-time.
  • Ask questions about the university's emergency plan. Find out how the college or university notifies staff, students, parents and the surrounding community about emergency situations. Make sure they employ both internal and external notification systems such as outdoor speaker systems for audible campus alerts and mass notification systems capable of alerting people through multiple channels via telephone, cell phone, email, fax, digital pager and or wireless PDA.
  • Check to see that there is bright lighting on the campus at night. Be sure the lighting extends to parking lots, walkways, recreation sites and other remote areas.
  • Take time to tour potential campuses. It is always a good idea to visit a school you are considering to interact with current students. Visit the campus police department and ask questions.

"Any type of crime, whether it is physical assault or theft, can be a traumatic and costly event. Parents and students alike should make campus safety a key factor by keeping these tips in mind when choosing where to study," Fiel said.

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