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College Talk: Campus Safety

September 28, 2021

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Perspectives Student Experience

As return to college campuses is in full swing, there’s lots to think about, whether it’s where to show up for classes, how to adjust to new living environments, or which extracurricular activities to join. 

In addition, one of the key things to get into the habit of and always be mindful of is student safety on and around campus. The latest episode of College Talk, a new podcast series featuring university administrators, subject matter experts, parents and students discuss a variety of topics that can help impact college success. 

On our second episode, “Be Safe, Be Smart On & Around Campus”, we chat with Chief of Police, James B. Dixon and Sergeant Daniel Benitez of Texas State University who bring a combined 50 years of experience of on-campus law enforcement. They remind us about the Clery Act, which is a federal law requiring all colleges to report crimes that occur on campus and school safety policies. The Act requires schools to send timely warnings to the school community when there are known risks to public safety. It also includes the the updates Campus SaVE Act, to address all incidents of sexual violence (sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking).

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James B. Dixon, Chief of Police (left)

Sergeant Daniel Benitez (right)

Here are some tips for students and reminders for parents to share with them. 

1. Be aware of personal surroundings and don’t let technology be a distraction

Whether walking across campus or to their cars, students are encouraged not to listen to music, talk on the phone or walk alone at night, which can all be distractions when it comes to personal safety. 

2. Don’t post overly personal information on social media 

It’s important to keep in mind that sharing personal locations or tagging friends can be a way for people online to locate individuals and create opportunities for scammers.

3. Know when and where crime is typically higher

“Crimes of opportunity” are one of the bigger trends around campus. For instance, if a student goes to the library and leaves their study area momentarily, they might find when they come back their items are missing. A great way to take precaution is to pack up all  belongings or invite a friend to study to keep an eye on each others’ things. Always remembering to lock dorm/apartments and cars is also key. 

4. Monitoring mental health 

Keep in touch with students and encourage them to check in on others. Look for warning signs like isolating, sleeping more or less, eating less, and mood swings. Mental health resources are available on campus either with campus police or at campus mental health centers. Students still need emotional support from their parents, even if from afar.  Host Anthony Raad reminds us that  just a simple “Hi, how are you?” can make a big difference and having a set time every week for parents and their students to have a phone call to check in can be helpful. 

The upcoming episode of College Talk will focus on student mental health and wellness and how students can support it. Guests will include Dr. Sonia Krishna, a board certified physician specializing in Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry and Hi, How Are You Project board member, University of Texas at Austin Director of Student Affairs, Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, and college student parent and author Anne Vilen.

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