January 17, 2012

Sisterhood & Safety

Our own safety and the safety of our sisters is a growing concern on campuses across the country. When it comes to safety, be proactive and don’t ever think you’re being too careful. Here are some tips to staying safe this semester.
If you’re inviting friends over, and you say it’s okay for them to bring friends, make sure to lock your door and put your valuables away. It may even be your roommates’ friends, but you can never be sure who is going to help him or herself to your belongings.

Think about safety when you’re choosing off campus housing: First floor vs. second floor? Windows that lock? Individual keys for your bedrooms? These are all legitimate concerns that you should be sure to address with your landlord or complex manager prior to signing a lease.

Be aware of your surroundings. This is true whether you are choosing an area for housing, an area for parking or just walking across campus. Think about where you’re going and what the safest way to get there is, and at night, what areas are well-lit. Avoid listening to music on your headphones while you’re out alone. This minimizes your ability to hear someone approaching and also advertises to a potential thief that you have something valuable to attempt to steal.

Take a self-defense class! Last year one of my sisters who is a black belt in karate taught our chapter some moves during a programming meeting. If you don’t have time to work it into your schedule, some campus recreation programs offer self-defense, or check out the local YMCA.

Talk about safety and inform yourself. Chances are your college or university has a Department of Safety or a site including tips, resources and where to report incidents. Educate yourself and your sisters on the potential risks, and have a plan should anything happen. The more aware you are of what could potentially happen, the more aware you will be if something is going on that doesn’t make you feel 100% comfortable. Never downplay your concerns, and if you don’t feel comfortable, remove yourself from the situation and report suspicious activity to campus security or police.

Visit Security on Campus, Inc. and Community Oriented Policing Services for more resources on campus safety.

Katie Foster is a collegiate member at Delta Nu (Maine).

What does your chapter do to make sure its members stay safe?

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