With move-in day just around the corner and the seemingly never ending news stories about assaults on campuses, students now have more critical things to worry about than which posters to hang on the wall. They are probably hearing it from all sides, too: parents, who are emailing them every yahoo news article about the latest campus assault updates, and administrators, whose resounding message during orientation will be “Safety First.” With all of these concerns flying around, students lose some of that joy and excitement of finally embarking on this new, coming-of-age phase in a teen’s life. Of course, parents and admin should take every precaution for the students’ safety and students should feel the weight of responsibility they now assume as a legitimate adult. However, I believe there is a way to enjoy life on campus while staying safe.
There is that crucial moment as a college student when you walk onto campus for the first time and you get to decide what kind of person you want to be. New start, new reputation, new life. And picking the right group of friends is pivotal to the rest of your college career. These new confidantes will serve as your surrogate family, your personal advisors, your shopping buddies, your source of enlightenment, your source of entertainment, your shoulders to cry on. You want to strike the right balance of smart, cool, trustworthy, fun, and serious. But as you weed through those hordes of potential BFF’s, be sure to also keep a look out for someone who can be your PICP (aka Partner in Crime Prevention). This person will be someone you can truly rely on- someone who would never spill the beans about your weird lip gloss obsession or abnormal hiccup problem whenever you talk to a cute co-ed.
After you find your new PICP, you’ll have some initial assignments to complete together. First, make a map of the campus marking the following:
• different places on and off campus that are open late and usually have people hanging around
• the emergency blue lights
• sketchy areas to avoid – including the crime locations whenever your school emails safety alerts
• a meeting place in case of emergencies
• the number for pizza delivery for those late-night-munchies occasions
• aerobics class times for working off all those late-night-munchies occasions
Then, buy matching notepads, like for times when one of you is stuck in the library studying. Write notes telling your PICP where you’ll be, who you’ll be with, and when you expect to return (place the note in an inconspicuous spot, not in plain sight). Next, come up with a code word, like “Robert Pattinson,” for times when you feel uncomfortable or unsafe in a situation. Text it to her if she’s not around, so she can help you get help. Finally, no matter how cute the boy might be at the party, pinky-swear to always go together, leave together. Now, not to get all “dark cloud” on you, it is sobering to think that 1 in 5 college women are sexually assaulted, so make a plan just in case either of you are (or believe to have been) sexually assaulted. The plan should include checking in on RAINN.org’s online support center.
Your PICP will play an important role in the next four (fingers crossed it’s not five) years, so choose wisely. And P.S., if you tell your parents about your new PICP, they will probably stop calling you every five seconds to make sure you’re not out walking alone at night.