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Improving Personal and Campus Safety

By KSU Counseling Services Staff

Every student at K-State has a responsibility to ensure his or her own safety as well as the safety of others. A university campus should be a safe space for learning and socializing. Students should be aware of basic safety tips.

The Most Common Campus Crime: Theft

Theft is the most common campus crime at K-State. To avoid theft, students need to keep watch over their material possessions whenever they are in public spaces. They need to lock their dorm rooms even when stepping out for a short time. Any valuables should be out-of-sight and locked away, whether in vehicles or in living spaces or on-campus work offices.

Bicycles should be registered with the campus police and should be locked into the bicycle racks when they are parked. Any detachable headlights, saddle bags, or other objects should be kept with the rider instead of left on the bicycle.

Students may also want to buy renter’s insurance to protect their possessions while they are renting an apartment or house, during their university years.

Avoiding On- and Off-campus Violence

Any campus has various security measures, some of which may be seen and others which are less obvious. To maximize the values of these tools, students would do well to learn what these measures are and to align with these security measures by using smart choices.

Most campuses have some video cameras to get a sense of the larger environment. There are emergency telephones on the broader campus and ways to reach the police in most elevators. Most campuses are well lit. Buildings have various security systems and ways to limit access to sensitive collections, laboratories, and other spaces.

Those in charge of security ask students to report any unusual activities or occurrences. Are there people who do not look like they belong? Are there people acting strangely?

Students who live, work, or study on campus should not leave regularly-locked security doors propped open. They should never share their Wildcat IDs (student identifications) with anyone else, especially since these are used for swipe-card access to various places on campus. Also, they should never share their online identifications with anyone—because that allows access to a range of student services, private records, and other privileges—as university students. They should not let down their guard.

If students are a victim of any criminal activity, they should speak up. They should also look out for each other—by setting up a strong network of personal safety on the campus. Students need to be responsible for themselves and for each other.

Any threats that are made by one individual against another should be mentioned to the campus police. A “joking” threat should be reported. It will be up to campus personnel to decide how to interpret the threat—after they investigate. Any suggestion of violence—either by gesture or verbalized comment or body language—should also be communicated to law enforcement. Getting any potential high-tension event to law enforcement should enable them to probe further and to respond as the facts dictate.

Some Red Flags of Relational Violence

Security expert and author Gavin de Becker’s “The Gift of Fear” (1997) offers some strategies that people use to try to strike up a relationship with a potential victim. The following bullet points were quoted from the Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gift_of_Fear. Students need to exercise proper cautions.

  • "Forced Teaming: This is when a person tries to pretend that he has something in common with a person and that they are in the same predicament when that isn't really true.
  • Charm and Niceness: This is being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate him or her.
  • Too many details: If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible.
  • Typecasting: An insult to get a person who would otherwise ignore one to talk to one.
  • Loan Sharking: Giving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return.
  • The Unsolicited Promise: A promise to leave someone alone when none was asked for, this usually means they won't leave the person alone.
  • Discounting the Word “No”: Refusing to accept rejection."

Concerning signs in other students may involve deterioration in their hygiene or studies; repeated absences; a decline in enthusiasm for school; threatening rants or emails or text messages or postings on their social networking sites; significant changes in weight; falling asleep at inappropriate times; signs of alcohol intoxication; multiple conversations about weapons or guns; cuts, burns, or bruises, and threats of violence, suicide, death or dying—in their work or conversations.

Strengthening Personal Safety

When walking around campus or exercising, students are advised to be with their friends and to look out for each other. They should socialize in well populated places. They may choose to exercise and walk around when they can clearly see the people around them and when they can get help if needed. It is important to stay alert.

If they choose to drink, they are asked to drink in moderation, to never drink and drive, and to always have a designated sober driver. Needless-to-say, students are also asked not to use illicit drugs. It’s hard to make good safety decisions when addled. At parties, students should never put down their drink, leave it for any amount of time, and then return to it and drink from it. The uses of “date rape” drugs have been used to assault students, and this is not a risk that people should take.

In an “Active Shooter” Situation

While firearms and weapons are not allowed on campus, occasionally, people with criminal intent may bring them on campus. In case of a campus shooting or a potential identified threat, go into a room, and lock the door. If no lock is available, use a barricade (like piled up furniture) to prevent entry by the potential shooter.

Quiet any phones by putting them on vibrate. Stay quiet.

If you happen to see the potential shooter and if you are in a safe position to get a clear visual of the shooter, note any characteristics that you may use to describe him or her to the police. Details such as height, build, clothing, demeanor, and other details may be highly useful.

Security experts have said through multiple public sources that campus shooter profiles are of individuals who are there to harm as many as possible. They are not there to negotiate per se. If people are cornered, they need to do their best to physically stop the shooter.
Law enforcement individuals also warn that when police are coming through a building to find potential shooters, all those hiding should have their hands out in plain sight, and they should not present a threatening profile—so that they are not accidentally shot by police.

Dangerous Weather Events

Manhattan, Kansas, has an audio alarm system in case of sudden tornadoes or severe thunder storms. Local radio and television stations will notify residents of potential weather risks. The main online K-State website also has this warning.

Real-Time Emergency Notifications

Students may sign up to be notified of emergencies through their mobile phones, email accounts, and other communications devices in real-time.

Safety Programs

The Saferide Program (http://www.k-state.edu/osas/saferide.htm) protects students from driving while intoxicated. The motto for this program is “We Drive You Ride Every Weekend” with a set route every weekend. The program may be reached at 785-532-6541.

The WildCat Walk Escort Program (http://www.k-state.edu/studentlife/wildcatwalk/) enables people to call for a secure escort when an individual is on campus and feels unsafe. They will be escorted to any other location on campus or up to two blocks off campus. Their # is 785-395-SAFE. Or, people may request an escort by pushing one of the blue light emergency buttons around the K-State Campus. This service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This service is provided by the K-State Police Department.

Additional Resources

The Campus Security Data Analysis Cutting Tool

Center for Personal Protection & Safety (Final Script of “Shots Fired on Campus”)

US Department of Education “Campus Security” Resources

K-State “Health and Safety”

K-State “Campus Safety Video”

K-State at Salina “Safety & Security”

© All staff articles are used by permission of the respective author(s). Copyright belongs to the University Life Café. No part of this may be used without authorization.

Improving Personal and Campus Safety (pdf)