7 ways to stay safe on campus this school year

WKU+students+cool+off+in+the+shade+while+they+eat+during+Topperfest+on+south+lawn+on+WKU+Campus+in+Bowling+Green%2C+Ky.+on+Friday%2C+Aug.+19.

Tucker Allen Covey / College Heights Herald

WKU students cool off in the shade while they eat during Topperfest on south lawn on WKU Campus in Bowling Green, Ky. on Friday, Aug. 19.

Molly St. Clair, Staff reporter

As colleges and universities fill back up for the fall, parties, long walks across campus and late nights of studying are bound to follow.

This also means there is a higher risk for crime. 

The most common crimes that take place on college campuses are burglary, sexual assault and vehicle theft. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, in 2019, 43% of all criminal offenses that took place on college campuses included some type of sexual assault.

“On campus the most things we see in common are crimes of opportunity,” Melissa Bailey, public information officer for WKU Police, said. This refers to thefts like bicycles or from cars or dormitories.

Most universities have campus police, but they can’t be everywhere at once, so it is important for each student to learn good safety practices.

Here are some effective ways to better ensure safety on or off campus during the school year:

Stick in groups of two or more

By making sure to never walk alone at night, personal safety is automatically increased. It is less likely that an offender will target a group of people over a singular person.

Know your nearest safe points

Knowing your way around campus and what you are near makes it easier to find help. Being observant of your surroundings is key to staying safe.

Anything can be used as a weapon

Personal items such as keys or heavy-duty water bottles can be used as weapons. It may also be helpful to carry pepper spray or an alarm.

Lock your car as soon as you get in

When walking back to a vehicle, have your keys ready. This way you don’t have to stand rummaging in your bag or pocket to find them.

Do not leave your drink or accept one from someone you don’t know

Unfortunately, not everyone is trustworthy, and drinks are a main target at parties. If you leave your drink unattended, get a new beverage and don’t risk it.

Have a plan

If you are going to a party where there will be alcohol, make sure to have a designated driver in place. If you are walking, know your route so you aren’t wandering around.

Report what happened

If law enforcement doesn’t know about an incident, they can’t help. Sharing your information can help aid WKUPD in cracking down on certain crimes or solving other cases, even if a tip was given anonymously. 

“No matter what it is, how small or how big the crime is – if you are a victim of any kind whether it is a hate crime or what you think is a small theft, call us and report it,” Bailey said.

Bailey also teaches self-defense classes for WKU students and staff. She focuses on helpful skills such as punches, kicks and maneuvers to get out of holds.

WKUPD offers safety escorts if a student is out at night and feels uncomfortable walking alone. 

“They just call the non-emergency number and tell us where we need to pick them up and we will take them wherever they need to go… the main thing is just to make sure they get where they are going safely,” Bailey said.

Staff reporter Molly St. Clair can be reached at [email protected]