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College Campus Safety – Questions to Ask

Here’s some great information from my colleague, Certified Educational Planner Julia Surtshin, addressing how to evaluate campus safety.

When visiting schools look for:
1.    The distance between residence halls, classrooms, libraries, dining commons, parking lots.
2.    Well lit walkways that are clear of bushes.
3.    Emergency call boxes located throughout campus. These are marked with blue lights.
4.    Smoke alarms and sprinkler systems in residence halls.
5.    Residence hall entrances that require keys or ID cards.
6.    Observable presence of campus security.

Consider:
1.    How easy it is to gain access to academic buildings, libraries, residence halls.
2.    Greek row (if possible at night during the weekend) for noise level, alcohol related behavior.
3.    Where public transportation drops students on campus.
4.    The school’s physical location: urban, suburban, rural.

Questions to ask should include:
1.    When do doors get locked? Are they easily opened?  Who has keys or codes?
2.    Is the security force full-time, part-time, professional, student-staffed?
3.    Do local police have authority on campus? Do they make foot patrols?
4.    Is there an after hours safe escort service on campus? What are its hours?
5.    How would you describe relations between students/campus and the local population?
6.    How convenient & safe is using local public transportation?
7.    What orientation programs on safety are offered to entering students?
8.    What appliances are permitted in residence halls, how many are permitted per room?
9.    How many of your friends have had security issues? What sort? How were they handled?

Female students: How comfortable do you feel walking around at night? Has anyone you know been involved in a date rape incident? How was it adjudicated?

Request to see safety statistics if you are especially concerned.  Colleges are required to maintain such information and provide it on request.

Other Resources
http://ope.ed.gov/security/index.aspx
http://www.securityoncampus.org/

Julia’s practice is in Portland, Oregon and her website is here.  I met her touring Oregon colleges in 2013.  

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