U officials suggest ways to stay safe

According to a University brochure, there were 101 burglaries in 2004.

Elizabeth Cook

Adjusting to a large metropolitan campus after leaving the safety of parents’ houses can be difficult for some new students.

The University offers services to keep students safe, as well as advice on campus safety and what to do if you are assaulted.

Students can walk home with a security monitor by using the escort service. To use the free service, students can call (612) 624-WALK.

Ben Schnabel, University’s Security Monitor Program manager, said the service is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“A basic principle in personal safety is: Don’t walk alone,” Schnabel said.

The monitors are guaranteed to walk students approximately one mile in each direction of campus. But, they routinely go out of boundaries if time permits, Schnabel said.

If a student ever needs a walk home, they should never hesitate to call, he said.

“Our job is to make sure they get where they need to safely,” Schnabel said.

Schnabel said students walking should be mindful of personal safety, pay attention to surroundings, use well-lit paths, and not wear distracting headphones.

Matt Gilroy, a philosophy senior, said he feels safe on campus.

“It’s normally safe because there’s a lot of people around,” Gilroy said.

Angie Sheldon, a University junior, said she also feels safe on campus. However, she doesn’t go to the bike trails by the river because she’s been warned multiple times that it’s a dangerous place.

Steve Johnson, deputy chief of the University Police Department, said the most important way to keep safe is to be aware of surroundings.

Johnson also offered advice on using an ATM. Students shouldn’t use cash machines if people are near them. It’s also a good idea to bring a friend, he said. Most likely, if someone is going to commit a crime, they don’t want people around, he said.

Students also need to protect themselves against identity theft on the Internet. Even if an e-mail looks legitimate, do not give any personal information over the Internet or telephone, Johnson said. Make sure it is an authentic request by either calling the institution or going there in person.

With theft being the most common crime on campus, students must always secure all of their property: Don’t leave anything unattended, Johnson warned.

Students also need to record all serial numbers for anything they own that has value. This way, if the goods are stolen, the information can be put into the police report. For example, if a bike was stolen and the student knew the serial number, police could have an easier time finding it, Johnson said.

Students should always back up all of the data from their laptop computer, Johnson said. This way in case it is stolen, a student will still have his or her coursework.

Even with precautions, crimes do occur at the University. According to a brochure published annually by the University, there were 14 forcible sex offenses, six robberies, six aggravated assaults, 101 burglaries and 32 motor vehicle thefts in 2004.

And these are only the crimes that were reported.

A lot of times a student may feel that it is futile to report a crime, Johnson said. But, every reported crime helps police, he said.

“We need to know crimes are occurring to address the problem,” Johnson said.

Roberta Gibbons, associate director of the Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, offered advice on sexual assault.

Ninety percent to 97 percent of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows, she said.

Gibbons said that if someone is sexually assaulted, they need to go somewhere safe. She urged victims to call the Aurora Center’s crisis line, where trained advocates will let them know what their options are and act as confidants.

Victims should get a sexual assault exam within 72 hours of the incident, she said. This health checkup can also be used as evidence if charges are pressed. All clothes and bed sheets from the attack should be saved in a paper bag.