K-State police sergeant offers helpful tips for personal and property safety on campus
By Levi Wolters
College life can mean learning to deal with important responsibilities. Keeping up with classes, getting along with roommates and learning to live on limited finances are just a few of the things a student may face.
One of the most important responsibilities -- and one that college students may overlook -- is learning how to keep themselves and their belongings safe, according to Sgt. Donald Stubbings of the Kansas State University Police Department.
A certified crime prevention specialist, Stubbings said there are easy steps students can take that may help prevent them from being a victim of a crime.
"The most common mistake is not securing your rooms and valuables, whether you live in a residence hall or off campus," he said.
To keep your property safe, he recommends:
* Keeping your room locked.
* Purchasing a lock box or small safe to secure all valuables, including checks, cash, credit cards and small electronic items, such as MP3 players.
* Recording the serial number of all items in your room or apartment. Stubbings said that if items are stolen and then recovered, the police department has a better chance of identifying the owner if serial numbers can be provided.
* Marking your textbooks in a way that you can identify them -- but do not use personal information, such as your Social Security number.
* Never leaving guests alone in your room. This is the time when lot of thefts occur, Stubbings said.
* If you bring a bicycle to school, registering it with your campus police or parking department. If the bike is stolen, the registration helps police return the bike to the owner if it is recovered. At K-State, bike registration is free.
* Securing your bike with a quality lock rather than conventional chair or cable locks to secure your bike. "The U-type locks are harder to break and discourage thieves because of the time and effort it takes to break them," he said.
When it comes to personal safety, Stubbings says:
* Always use the buddy system. When out at night make sure you have at least one friend that knows where you are at all times. Also, when walking on campus at night, walk with a buddy. At K-State, a free escort service, the "Wildcat Walk," is available. Students can dial 395-SAFE and a team of two volunteer escorts will meet and walk with them up to six blocks off campus.
* Have a plan when you go out. Use your college's safe ride program if available, and always arrange times to meet friends and exchange phone numbers before going out in case of problem. "It is important to stick to your plan and know where your friends are at all times," he said.
* Get to know your roommate. If you do not feel comfortable with your roommate, ask for a change as soon as possible.
* Know where you can go to get emergency help on campus. K-State has 23 emergency/information phone boxes across campus that are monitored by the K-State police department. The phone boxes are outside buildings and in heavily traveled areas to allow the campus community quick access to emergency services. The phones also can be used to ask for directions or to report a crime or accident. An example of these boxes is pictured above.
* If out at night, never take drinks from strangers and never leave your drinks out of view. "I don't think students take their safety for granted as much as giving too much trust to people that they don't know," Stubbings said.
* Arrange for crime prevention training. At K-State, Stubbings provides such training for living groups, offices and organizations. He can be reached at 785-532-6412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.