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Protecting Yourself from Personal Attack Injuries at College

Aug 24, 2022 - Personal Injury

Going to college for the fall semester is supposed to be a time of excitement and anticipation. Students should be looking forward to moving into their dorms and apartments, and they should be focused on figuring out how to get to their new classrooms and other key locations on campus.

They should not be worried about protecting themselves from attacks.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, the risk of being attacked on campus is a very real concern. We’re all familiar with the far-too-common headlines covering mass shootings on campuses and in other venues. Statistics show that sexual assaults are alarmingly common on college campuses as well, with RAINN.org reporting that “13% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation (among all graduate and undergraduate students).”

7 Tips for Students, Faculty and Staff Stay Safe at College During the 2022-2023 School Year

With all of this in mind, what can students (along with faculty and staff) do to protect themselves at college during the 2022-2023 school year? Here are some campus safety tips from our attorneys:

1. Sign Up for Campus Alerts

Many colleges now have school-wide alert systems that send messages to students, faculty and staff when there are safety threats on campus. All students and personnel should sign up for these alert systems so that they receive notification of any incidents or risks that could jeopardize their health or safety.

When colleges send out alerts, students and personnel should take them seriously. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Follow any instructions the school provides—including staying put in your location or getting to a safe place quickly if necessary.

2. Get To Know Your Dormmates, Classmates or Colleagues

At colleges and universities, there is often safety in numbers. As you get to know more of your dormmates, classmates or colleagues, you can rely on one another for your collective safety. For example, maybe your phone’s battery dies and you don’t receive an alert—but your dormmate does. Or, maybe you and a group of classmates go out as a group—sticking together and reducing the risk that any one of you will become a victim of an attack.

3. Use the Buddy System

Even if you can’t always be with a group, you can usually find a buddy. If you have concerns about your safety and want someone to walk with you, you can rest assured that someone else shares similar concerns and has similar wants. Wanting to walk with someone doesn’t make you weak or alarmist. It makes you smart—and it can help protect you in a lot of different types of situations.

4. Stay Sober

When you aren’t in control of your faculties, you are at far greater risk of being victimized. You are also at risk of putting yourself in potentially dangerous situations (i.e., getting into a confrontation that could lead to a physical fight). With this in mind, a good way to help protect yourself at college is to stay sober. While it might not seem like the most fun choice at the moment, it is the right choice, and when your college career is over, you will be glad that you made the right decisions.

5. Never Accept Drinks or Drugs from People You Don’t Know

If you decide to drink or take drugs at college, you should never accept drinks or drugs from people you don’t know. Those drinks could be spiked, and those drugs could have additives or a potency you aren’t expecting. As a result, you could black out without expecting it, and this could leave you vulnerable and unable to fend off an attack.

Similarly, if you leave a drink unattended, it is best not to come back to it. Instead, throw it in the trash. While it is relatively unlikely overall that your drink was spiked, this is a real possibility.

6. Do Your Best to Avoid Isolated Areas and Dangerous Situations

When walking on (or off) campus, it is best to avoid isolated areas whenever you can. Even if the safer route is longer, the safer route is the right choice. For example, if you have a choice between staying on lighted streets or sidewalks and taking a shortcut through a dimly lit alley with just two points of entry and exit, you should not take the alley. While doing so might save you a few minutes, the risk simply isn’t worth it.

Likewise, if you identify any other potentially dangerous situations, you should try to avoid these as well. If you encounter a large crowd (outside of the context of a football game or other scheduled event) or a suspicious individual, for example, you should keep your distance—and you should not hesitate to contact your RA or the campus police if you have concerns.

7. Have a Plan

Finally, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from personal attack injuries at college is to have a plan. Have a routine (i.e., always check for safety alerts before leaving for class), make arrangements to meet a buddy or group, and make sure you know your route so you don’t get lost. Know what you will do if you find yourself in a dangerous situation, and know where the emergency call boxes are on your route (these are typically marked with blue lights).

As a student, faculty member or staff member, the reality is that you cannot completely insulate yourself from the risk of being attacked or assaulted. But, there are steps you can take to mitigate your risk both on and off campus. Be smart, make the right decisions and say something if you have a concern. This will help protect you and those around you.

Contact the Attorneys at Drake, Hileman & Davis

If you or someone you know is a victim of an attack at a college in Pennsylvania, our attorneys can help. With offices in Doylestown, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and Stroudsburg, we represent students, staff and faculty members statewide. For a free and confidential consultation, call 888-777-7098 or tell us how we can contact you online now.

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