College is an exciting time in a young person’s life, filled with new friends, experiences, career opportunities, as well as opportunities for personal growth. However, college can also be a threat to the average student’s safety and security, especially if they don’t take proper precautions. Every year, college campuses in the U.S. serve as hot spots for crime, with sexual violence, theft, and intoxication-related injuries and deaths being the most common complaints that local police handle. Campus police officers can only do so much to keep a safe campus and protect students from harm. Students must also do their part to prevent crimes as well as protect themselves and others. Below, our criminal defense lawyers break down the top safety tips for college students to keep in mind this school year.
If you’re a college student facing criminal charges for theft, sexual violence, drunk driving, or other violent crimes, it’s important to hire aggressive legal representation to protect your legal rights and obtain the best possible case outcome. Call our Baton Rouge criminal defense lawyers at 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation today.
What Are Common Campus Crimes in the U.S.?
Before we explore campus safety tips, it’s essential to explore the most common campus crimes in the United States today. While colleges and universities strive to provide secure environments, it’s crucial to acknowledge that crime can happen anywhere, including on a college campus. Here are the most common types of crimes that happen at most schools across the nation:
- Property Crimes: Property crime incidents such as theft, burglary, and motor vehicle theft are relatively common on college campuses. These crimes often target personal belongings, making it crucial to safeguard your possessions.
- Sexual Assault: College campuses are often rampant with underreported cases of sexual violence. Both men and women need to be aware of the risks and the importance of consent and communication in sexual encounters.
- Alcohol and Drug-Related Incidents: Substance abuse and underage drinking are prevalent on many campuses, especially those labeled as “party schools.” Frequent alcohol and drug use can lead to various safety concerns, including alcohol poisoning, car accidents, sexual abuse, hazing, and other violent confrontations.
- Cybersecurity Threats: As technology becomes more integrated into college life, students should be aware of cyber threats, such as identity theft, hacking, and online harassment.
LSU Campus Crime Statistics
Baton Rouge is the largest college city in the state of Louisiana because of our beloved LSU. 37,000 college students were enrolled at LSU in the 2022 school year. This number of young adults studying, partying, and just living in such a concentrated area can present the perfect opportunity for campus crimes committed by fellow students or regular Baton Rouge folk.
In 2021, LSU campus police received reports of the following criminal offenses that occurred either on campus or in residential facilities:
- Sex Offenses (Forcible): 21
- Fondling: 10
- Robbery: 3
- Aggravated Assault: 6
- Burglary: 80
- Motor Vehicle Theft: 18
- Dating Violence: 8
- Domestic Violence: 2
- Stalking: 13
It’s important to note that many of these criminal offenses, particularly sexual assault offenses, are frequently underreported due to a combination of fear, shame, guilt, and confusion. It’s very likely that some of these crimes are far more prevalent on an annual basis than these statistics indicate. That’s why it’s so important for college students to do what they can to stay safe on campus and within their dorms.
Top Safety Tips for College Students
All college campuses have their fair share of security officers, emergency services, fire safety measures, and even counseling services for the sake of creating a secure and healthy student life. However, students must take extra precautions to protect themselves and others from further harm. Be sure to keep the following tips in mind as you start your college journey.
Be Smart on Social Media
In today’s digital age, social media sites are a significant part of college life. It’s a great tool for social connection and documenting your favorite college memories. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when sharing personal information online. Avoid disclosing sensitive details like your residence hall, class schedule, or party plans on public platforms. Use privacy settings to control who can access your information, and be cautious when accepting friend requests or messages from an unknown person. It’s very easy for people with bad intentions to find you and potentially hurt you just from the minimal information you post online.
Avoid Walking Alone at Night
College is all about staying up to the early hours of the morning to study or party. After these activities, though, you should never attempt to walk back to your dorm or apartment alone. There is safety in numbers, so always practice the “buddy system” and walk with a friend. You can also use designated campus transportation services, such as shuttles or escorts, to ensure you reach your destination safely. If you must walk alone, check your campus map for well-lit areas. Additionally, stay aware of your surroundings and have your cell phone on you at all times.
Lock Dorm Doors and Protect Your Stuff
Locking your dorm room or apartment door is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to protect your belongings and personal safety. Never leave your room unlocked, even if you’re just stepping out briefly. Stolen property is very common on college campuses, as indicated by the statistics above. Additionally, invest in a sturdy lock for your laptop and other valuable items to prevent theft at a library, cafe, or other busy area.
Pay Attention to Dorm Visitors
Most residence halls have key card readers that let students in one by one. This is a great campus security measure, except that students tend to hold the doors open for each other, so really anyone could filter in and out if they wanted to.
Be cautious when holding the door open and allowing visitors into your dormitory. Don’t prop open entrance doors, and always verify the identity of anyone requesting access. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about a visitor, report your concerns to campus security or residence staff.
Have a Plan for Parties
Partying is a very important part of the overall college experience, but it can also present the most dangers if students aren’t careful.
Before heading to a party, inform a trusted friend about your plans, including the location and expected return time. Or better yet, create a party safety plan with a trusted friend so that you both can show up together, keep an eye on each other, and leave together. Be sure one or both of you has their cell phone and emergency contacts with them. Additionally, it’s important to eat a solid meal and drink water before drinking heavily to best prevent binge drinking and alcohol poisoning. Know your alcohol limits, and stop when you feel like you have had enough.
Protect Your Drink At Parties
It’s unfortunately very common for other party-goers to attempt to drug other people’s drinks, particularly womens’ drinks, with the date rape drug called Rohypnol. Always watch your drink being prepared, keep it in your sight, and don’t accept open drinks from strangers. If you leave your drink to go to the bathroom, don’t continue sipping from the old drink – get a new one for the sake of safety. If you suspect your drink has been tampered with or if you start feeling unusually intoxicated, seek emergency services immediately.
Be Familiar With Campus Safety Services and Programs
Get to know the campus safety resources available to you. Most colleges have campus security or police departments, and they often provide services like safety escorts, emergency call boxes, and crime prevention programs. For example, LSU offers several self defense courses, such as the Equalizer Self-Defense Program (ESP) and the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) program to teach students how to best protect their personal safety.
Lastly, familiarize yourself with the contact information of the campus safety office and how to reach them in case of an emergency.
Carry Self-Defense Tools
You may feel much safer on your college campus if you carry a couple of self-defense tools in your purse or backpack. For example, tools like pepper spray, tasers, stun guns, batons, alarms, or sharp keychains can temporarily immobilize an attacker so that you can run and call for help.
It’s important to note that many colleges may ban specific types of self-defense weapons on campus, such as knives or guns, so be sure to read up on your college’s public safety rules and regulations. Additionally, if you’re wanting to carry a gun for the sake of self-defense, it’s important to read up on your state’s laws about open and concealed carry.
If You See Something, Say Something
“See something, say something” is one of the most important safety measures that anyone can abide by. It’s everyone’s responsibility to report any dangerous or suspicious behavior to campus police in order to protect themselves and their fellow students. Reporting suspicious activity that you think might be nothing could actually save someone’s life.
Additionally, if you see that someone is injured, ill, or unconscious at a party or other campus event, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately using your cell phone or the emergency phones on campus. Again, doing this can quite literally save someone’s life.
Call The Law Offices of Ossie Brown Today
If you’re facing criminal charges for playing a role in campus crime, it’s crucial to arm yourself with the best legal representation. At the Law Offices of Ossie Brown, our legal team has decades of combined experience in handling both personal injury and criminal defense cases. We have been protecting and defending the legal rights of Louisianans since 1984, and we can do the same for you. Call 225-343-1111 to schedule a free consultation at our law firm today.