Campus Safety: 6 Common Campus Threats + How To Avoid ThemBy Patrick Jones, UniversityHerald Reporter
Stepping on campus as a new college student can very be overwhelming and exciting. Living with a stranger in a dorm, meeting new people in the dining hall, preparing for late-night cram sessions in the library...so many exhilarating and challenging days lie ahead!
In order to make your university experience safe as well as fulfilling, let's explore some common threats you may encounter on campus and discuss methods to avoid them.
1. Mental Health Issues
Most traditional college students are fresh out of high school and getting their first taste of adult life and responsibilities, while non-traditional students are likely juggling their studies, work hours, and family obligations. Due to these pressures, many students experience their first onset of mental health problems or substance abuse while in college.
Learning to live with housemates, the pressures of new relationships, and the stress of academic rigor can cause poor mental health in students. Mental health experts estimate that most disorders peak during young adulthood and 75% of those with a mental health disorder have had their first onset of symptoms by age 25, making college students particularly susceptible.
Seeking help from a counselor or therapist can do wonders for those struggling with mental health issues in college. Many universities allow you to speak with a health professional on staff free of charge.
2. Cybersecurity Threats
College students face cybersecurity threats as they are constantly sharing computer labs and logging on to unknown wifi networks that may be potentially insecure.
Just as you wouldn't leave your wallet unattended on campus, you must do everything you can to prevent your information from being be stolen. When you're using the computer lab, always log out of your email and any applications you are logged into, and avoid using an unknown wifi network to prevent theft of your personal information.
Between tests, clubs, classes, and partying, it may seem like stress is an unavoidable part of the college experience. Indeed, our society has been conditioned to treat busyness and stress as a badge of honor, rather than acknowledge it for the serious health risk that it is.
Stress can cause mental and even physical health problems, and many students who already experience mental health issues report an increase in depression and suicidal thoughts due to stress. While college students will never truly avoid stress, these feelings may be minimized by establishing healthy practices such as exercise, meditation, and sticking to a study schedule.
4. Physical Or Sexual Assault
Unfortunately, college students can be particularly vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse and violence. When you are adjusting to a new environment away from your family for the first time, you may not even be aware that what you are experiencing is abuse. It's important for students to educate themselves on consent, and create a safer sexual culture on campus.
In a survey of nearly 300 universities by the International Association of Counseling Centers, experts found that nearly 88% of campus counselors saw "severe" psychological problems in students, many of whom were suffering from eating disorders, substance abuse, and sexual assault. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, don't be afraid to ask for help by seeking out a campus counselor or consulting a lawyer.
With little to no personal space afforded in a dorm, and your belongings on full display, you may be susceptible to theft. According to statistics from the US Department of Education, over 30,000 burglaries are reported in relation to college campuses and college students every year, with half of these taking place in a residence hall.
When your dorm room is your bedroom, dining space, and living area, it can be tempting to leave it open or unlocked to let friends down the hall drop by. You and your roommate can curb theft in your dorm room by faithfully locking and closing the door when you aren't present, or ease your mind by getting a small safe.
Fire is a common hazard while living in a small dormitory, and can cause damage to yourself, your belongings, and others in the residence hall. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that under 4,000 fires happen each year in university housing.
Curb potential fire hazards by never leaving a candle or stove unattended and taking extra care when using electrical appliances, lamps, or technology to be sure they don't overheat.
In order to ensure that your college experience is enriching, fun, and safe, keep watch for these common campus threats and remain aware of how they can affect you or your friends.