‘Safety is in your hands’

‘Safety is in your hands’

There are a few safety issues that one must keep in mind before one chooses a university in the US, says Adarsh Khandelwal

Campus safety is slowly becoming one of the major criteria for picking colleges, especially for Indian students applying to the US universities. The good part is that the US is far more proactive when it comes to keeping its students safe. The USA is a conglomeration of cultures and races, and it’s much easier to find a niche for yourself than in most places.

 List of things to keep in mind while researching campus safety in the US.

Look at the stats, but keep in mind that these may not be a completely accurate way to tell which colleges are safer. Colleges with better safety resources often have higher crime rates, because students feel more confident reporting crime. To get you started, the department of education provides the campus safety and security data analysis cutting tool (http://ope.ed.gov/security/) which allows you to search crime stats by institution, and also gives you a breakdown of the types of crime committed.

Research the surrounding area, because hopefully, you’ll venture off campus once in a while and it’ll be useful to know whether your college is surrounded by the relative safety of a few dozen cornfields, or shady back alleys and underground criminal organisations.

Research resources available on campus. You need to be aware of policies in place to prevent crime, and the resources available on campus to get help and spread awareness. Being ignorant or uncomfortable about the issues is unsafe too.  You also need to be aware of protocol in case of emergency. Most campuses will also have Spiritual advisors and professional mental health counsellors available for any help you might need after a trauma.

Try to get an insight into campus culture, because a lot of what makes a college safe or otherwise is determined by unmeasurable things, like the attitudes of students and faculty. Students often get carried away with the freedom of it all, and this leads to accidents. On the other hand, you also want to be aware of how openly issues like sexual assault and substance abuse are discussed on campus, because this can impact how comfortable you’ll be asking for help in dangerous situations.

Keep in mind that your safety depends on you. Be careful. Really, it’s as simple as that. Avoid situations where you might get in trouble, and behave responsibly when you find yourself in one. In the end, regardless of campus culture and policies in place to prevent crime, you are the one who decides how safe you’ll be at any institution. More likely than not, you won’t be mugged unless you’re out alone at 3 am and you won’t get into sticky situations with substances if you know your limits and stick by them.

The writer is co-founder, Collegify 



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