In a recent blog posted on the University of Portland’s Public Safety page, IACLEA gives the ten most important things to do in order to ensure student safety. While the tips are applicable at many campuses nationwide, there are several in particular that I find can be of direct assistance to the students here at UP. The first bit of advice given is to program the phone number of Public Safety into your phone in case of emergency. This tip can be helpful in circumstances where a student witnesses a fight taking place, property being stolen or damaged, or a student who had been drinking get behind the wheel of a car.
An additional helpful hint is to never walk alone, especially at night. While the University itself is seemingly harmless, the surrounding areas (think St. Johns and Lombard Street) attract scores of unnecessary crime. People walking home from classes or parties must understand that trouble can develop anywhere and at any time, and thus it is important to use the power of numbers to avoid falling victim. As noted in the Public Safety blog, many crimes that have occurred on or near our campus, such as sexual assault, destruction of property, and theft, are oftentimes simply crimes of opportunity. As such, it is imperative to be careful and reach out to others if you find yourself alone or in a bad part of town. As in any major city, scores of criminals will undoubtedly be attracted to mischief that they deem easy or vulnerable, and as such students and faculty alike need to take the appropriate measures to not be put in such situations.
Suspicious characters with no University affiliation are rare on our campus, however if there is even the slightest thought of something being not quite right, it is widely encouraged to reach out and contact a University official. Knowing one’s surroundings can save a ton of time, money, and potential physical harm. As someone who has been robbed and had a car stolen in front of my place in the last two years alone near campus, I know firsthand how making plans and sticking to them can save people from unsavory situations. Don’t be afraid to speak up.
One last measure the University believes could help is to enroll in some form of self-defense class. While this option is certainly not for everyone, it never hurts to have an added layer of comfort in tense situations. At the end of the day, the keys to avoiding hazardous situations are simply to be prepared, know your surroundings, and not take unnecessary risks. The insurance of a safer tomorrow for all lies directly in the actions taken by those today.