Campus Safety Awareness Month week 3: Personal Safety
September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month. The University of St. Thomas Public Safety Department is sponsoring information tables, a poster series, other events, and safety tips and precautions, like those listed below.
From St. Thomas' Public Safety Department
There are some things that victims of sexual assault should do to help themselves after an attack:
- Get yourself to a safe place, and call a trusted friend if you want someone with you.
- Do not shower or wash any area that the perpetrator may have touched. Save all clothing and other items involved in the assault.
- Go to a hospital (Regions Hospital is recommended in the St. Paul area) for an exam for your health, and to collect evidence in case you want to make a police report. Specially trained nurses can help you evaluate risks of disease and pregnancy, as well as check for physical injury and document possible evidence.
- Call the police and make a report if you feel comfortable (or the hospital can call for you).
- Follow up with your primary-care physician for further care.
- Seek counseling to speak to someone about what happened.
St. Thomas has resources on campus that can help you if you or someone you know has been assaulted, whether the attack happened on UST property or not, or if the perpetrator is a UST student or not.
- Public Safety, (651) 962-5100
- Student Health Services, (651) 962-6750
- Personal Counseling, (651) 962-6780
- Dean of Students Office, (651) 962-6050
- There are other resources in the area and nationally that are designed to help victims of sexual assault through the personal recovery and legal process.
- Sexual Offense Services of Ramsey County 24-hour crisis line, (651) 643-3006
- Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault
- Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network
- The Dean of Students Office has updated and revised the UST Sexual Violence Policy.
Self-defense training can be an important aspect of personal safety, as well as promoting mental and physical health. If you choose to pursue a self-defense class and curriculum, here are some important points to keep in mind:
- Awareness and Avoidance – A good class should promote behaviors and skills that enable you to avoid situations that call for you to defend yourself.
- Simple skill set – The class should teach skills that anyone can learn and do. Evaluate the skills taught to see if they meet these criteria. Flipping spin kicks look really cool, but they can take a long time to learn how to do.
- Pressure testing the skills – You should be provided the opportunity to try the skills safely under pressure (i.e., defending yourself against an attacker in a padded suit). Recognize your comfort zone, the pressure testing may push you out of it. Discuss that with the instructor if you have concerns.
- No weapons or “one shot” solutions – Both require a high level of training. Carrying a weapon can have legal ramifications. One shot tactics require precision, timing and hand-eye coordination. Self-defense skills should utilize gross motor skills (large muscle groups) Note: UST prohibits the possession of firearms or other weapons on university property.
- Instructor credentials – The instructor should have a background in self-defense training, not just aerobics, personal training, or the martial arts. While each of these areas provides a basis for self-defense training and skills, they are not the same thing. An instructor should be able to work with people of all shapes, sizes, abilities and backgrounds.
Don’t walk alone. Find a group of friends headed to where you want to go and walk with them, or if you can’t, Public Safety provides a 24-hour, seven days per week escort program. Students should call (651) 962-5100 any time of day for escorts around campus, and to and from off campus locations within a six-block radius of campus.
Since January 2000, the Center for Campus Fire Safety has identified 88 fire fatalities in student housing through media reports. Almost 80 percent of these deaths have occurred in off-campus housing such as rented houses and apartments. Common factors in a number of these fires have included:
- Lack of automatic fire sprinklers
- Missing or disabled smoke alarms
- Careless disposal of smoking materials
- Alcohol consumption
Wherever you live and work, know the location of the nearest exit, as well as an alternate route to get out if the primary exit is blocked, and where the nearest fire extinguisher and fire alarm pull station are. If you hear the fire alarm, DO NOT IGNORE IT. (A fire marshal can issue citations to individuals who do not leave a building during a fire alarm.) Put on clothing appropriate to the weather outside, grab your keys, and exit the building as quickly as possible. If your escape route is blocked, return to your room, close the door, and wait for rescue. Call 911 and tell the dispatcher exactly where you are in the building, and follow any instructions that they give you.
Wear your seatbelt any time you are in a moving vehicle (It is the law and you can be ticketed if you don’t.), and wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle or bicycle. Be sure you keep up with basic maintenance of your vehicle, and keep at least half a tank of gas at all times so you don’t run out. Know how to change a tire and where the spare and jack are located for your vehicle. Know how to jumpstart your vehicle and have a good pair of jumper cables or a charged jump-pack. When driving in inclement weather, keep a blanket and first-aid kit as well as a bottle or two of water and an energy bar. Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you plan to arrive.
If you have a medical condition that may require emergency attention (severe allergies, diabetes, seizure conditions, etc.), wear a medical-alert tag in an obvious place (bracelet, neckla
ce or ankle bracelet). Keep a detailed medical card in your wallet outlining your condition and emergency contacts. If you have a condition that would require you to receive special assistance during an emergency, please call and advise Residence Lif,e (651) 962-6470, or the UST Enhancement Program, (651) 962-6315.
Use caution when posting personal information online, especially at sites such as Facebook.com and MySpace.com. People may use that information to stalk you or steal your identity. When meeting people that you have met online, be careful. Meet in a public place, and let someone know who you are meeting and where, and what time you plan to return.