Dealing with the new freedom of college life: Staying safe and not giving your mother a heart attack.

Dealing with the new freedom of college life.
Staying Safe and Not Giving Your Mother a Heart Attack.

Everything is a buzz; you move into your shiny new suite in your college dorm and you think, “This is what they mean by ecstatic”. Every one is excited. Your new suite mate seems cool, and you have a kitchen and a bathroom all to yourself (that you have to share).

Technically it’s your first place, even if you visited before, it feels like a brand new city. A fresh start: fresh faces you look forward to mingling with, a tonne of freshman activities, party invites and how will you ever remember the names of those buildings or how to get to classes in them?! Breathe… It’s ok. One step at a time. Trust me, everything will fall into place as if nature intended it. In the mean time, lets cover some ground rules; things you should never lose sight of while living away from home, on campus.

Action Changes Things Acronym

A roommate/ suite-mate may not be such a bad thing after all.

Besides the guarantee of exercising your nerves at least three times a week, your roommate may actually make your freshman year a lot safer.

1. Take her/ his number down in your phone.

Tell your suite mate if you are going to a party or sleep over and when you will be coming back home. Even if you are going to the mall or visiting your family for the weekend, tell your suite mate your plans.

2. When you tell your suite mate your plans, text it to them, leave a message under her room door or call him/ her. Do not, I repeat, do not broadcast your message on the outer door for everyone to know your whereabouts. Thieves love that kind of information.

3. Please try to get along with your roommate, at least until both of you find other friends. This way you can buddy up together for a trip to the shuttle bus, “The Caf”, the library etc. especially if it is after dark.

4. If you have somehow managed to lose your suite key; do the right thing and alert your suite mate. You may have to bear some passive aggression or a short-term temper tantrum, but at least they can arrange to let you in safely.

5. Do not put tape, tissue paper, paper towel or any other ingenious device over your suite lock or in the door to allow “friends” into your suite. Just don’t do it.

Numbers you absolutely “have to have”. Check.

1. Campus shuttle. Check?

The campus shuttle is on your campus for a reason, use it, you are paying for it after all. After a late night at the library, call them ahead of time and ask them to notify you when they are outside the building. After a Frosh event or a party, instead of going into your new friends new ride (you both know you both have been drinking) buddy up and wait for the shuttle bus to take you to your dorm – in one piece. Check!

2. Campus police. Check?

The campus police aren’t just on campus for their good looks. If you feel you are being stalked, if you have been robbed or if someone has threatened your safety alert the campus police, they will document your claims, make a report and escalate the matter to the city police if necessary. Check!

“Hey wanna party with us?” Questions you must ask yourself before during and after you decide to party.

Before: Have a plan and stick to it as best as possible.

1. What time am I going to leave?

2. Who did I tell that I’m going to this party?

3. How will I be getting home?

During: be smart; know what to do and when it’s time to leave.

1. Should I be eating from this communal bowl of chips? Drinking from this communal bowl of rum punch?

2. I see illegal drugs being used… Should I be in proximity to this? Should I even be at this party?

3. Why is everyone running? Was that a bottle that just whizzed passed my head?

Alcohol does seem to bring out the “Inner Hulk” in some college kids; If a fight does break out, don’t try to intervene, don’t try to hold anyone back, just leave.

After: Mission; get home and get in safe.

1. Where are my room keys?

Always have your suite/house keys ready and available before getting to your suite/room.

2. Will I still able to get home as planned?

If not – call the campus shuttle and buddy up with a friend

3. Tell associates at the party that you are about to leave and with whom.

4. Do not allow anyone you do not know to come into your dorm behind you if they do not have an entry pass.

5. Make sure your dorm room locks behind you.

Finally… When you are in your dorm room safely:

Send a text or make a phone call telling your associate you are home safe.

Its funny how little details can have such importance. If people I knew paid attention to these simple things, lives would have been saved, and tremendous heartbreak could have been spared during my college years. I pass these gems on in the hope you will save your family some unnecessary heartbreak, and possibly help another college student, by passing it on to them.

It is not my intention that you become obsessively paranoid, but I would like you to be smart while enjoying your campus life. I know from experience that the best way to enjoy campus life, is to have the assurance that you are being as safe as possible.

I wish you all the best as you carve your mark on the world. Go forth, go safely and don’t forget to call your mother.

Did I miss anything? What safety measure did/do you take on campus that keeps/kept you safe? Please let me know in your comments below.

Written by: Julia V Matthews.

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