College and Campus Safety Guide
By ACO Staff
Published on September 10, 2021
Security and Safety Tools, Tips and Resources for College Students
College may be the time for students to break out of their comfort zone and experience new situations. But with freedom and independence comes personal responsibility, especially in scenarios regarding safety and security. While nearly 30% of college students report they don’t have any safety concerns, another 70% say they worry about a variety of safety-related situations, like excessive drinking, walking alone on campus, theft and more. We’ve provided a roundup of resources, tools, tips and actionable expert advice on a variety of safety and security topics and scenarios college students most commonly encounter below. Read on to learn how to navigate tricky situations where student health and safety are involved.
Common Student Safety and Security Concerns
From understanding emergency preparedness plans to knowing how to report a crime at college, there are many facets of student health, safety and security. Students should get to know their rights, and use the resources and tools designed to help maintain a healthy college experience. Here are some helpful guides we’ve created with realistic tips, tools, resources, and expert advice on common student security and safety concerns.
Alcohol Awareness for College Students
Many students will encounter alcohol, some for the first time, during their college years. Get tips on how to treat alcohol responsibly and form healthy habits if and when you choose to drink.
GUIDE TO ALCOHOL AWARENESS IN COLLEGE
College Study Drugs
What is a study drug? Are they illegal? Get answers to common questions college students have regarding study drugs, and find advice on what to do if you or a friend is using or abusing these high-pressure prescriptions.
ADVICE & RESOURCES: COLLEGE STUDY DRUGS
Cyberbullying in College
Often a silent safety concern, cyberbullying can happen amongst online or on campus students. Understand what constitutes online bullying, get to know your rights, and get tips on what to do if you find yourself in a cyberbullying situation.
COLLEGE STUDENT CYBERBULLYING AWARENESS
Guns on Campus
Though rules and regulations vary by state and campus, the debate about whether guns should be allowed on college campuses is a hot-button issue. Get perspectives from college experts, learn about the common rules, regulations and rights concerning firearms on campus, and compare the facts and myths surrounding guns and gun safety in college.
COMING SOON: STUDENT’S GUIDE TO GUNS ON CAMPUS
Healthy Student Relationships: What is Consent?
The only way to prevent sexual assault is to avoid becoming a perpetrator. The first step to promoting safe and healthy sexual relationships for students is understanding consent. Learn more about what consent is and isn’t here.
WHAT IS CONSENT?
Identity Theft and Online Security for Students
How much does the average college student know about cyber security? Test your knowledge, understand why college students are prime identity theft targets, and learn what you can do to better protect yourself from identity theft as a student.
IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION IN COLLEGE
Legal Rights as a College Student
Every student, whether studying in the U.S. as an international student or as a U.S. citizen, has legal rights to help maintain life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Learn about common legal rights questions and situations college students encounter and get connected with helpful resources.
GUIDE TO LEGAL RIGHTS AS A COLLEGE STUDENT
Natural Disaster Planning and Recovery
Colleges and universities often have meticulous plans for what to do in emergency and natural disaster situations, but there are personal precautions college students can take to be better prepared in case of emergency. Get tips on planning for disasters and advice on how to cope and recover after an emergency event as a college student.
NATURAL DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND RECOVERY ON CAMPUS
School and Workplace Harassment as a Student
Every student has the right to feel safe at school or work, regardless of their sex, race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, age, disability or genetic information. Get to know your rights as a student when it comes to harassment at college or work.
ADVICE AND STUDENT RIGHTS: CAMPUS & WORKPLACE HARASSMENT
Back to school can mean excitement for college students, but is also prime season for scammers. Find out how the common scams designed to trick college students work, from financial aid and scholarships traps to college rental and housing deceptions. Learn how to spot an offer that might be too good to be true.
STUDENT SCAMS & HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Substance Use and Abuse in College
Recognizing the signs of improper substance use and abuse can be difficult, especially in situations that seem to be “the norm” in college. Get real tips on cutting back, quiz yourself to see how much you know about laws regarding common college drugs, and arm yourself with information that could save someone’s life in a substance abuse situation.
COLLEGE STUDENT SUBSTANCE ABUSE SAFETY AND RESOURCES
Suicide Prevention for Students
Take a quiz to understand how serious the feelings you may be having could be. From self-help to emergency assistance, get connected with resources to help navigate tough situations you or someone you know may be going through in college.
COLLEGE STUDENT DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE PREVENTION
How Safe is My College?
Students, prospective students or even parents of prospective students may wonder how safe their college really is, as either online or campus-based students. Some may even make their college decision on the level of safety and security they feel associated with a particular school. Those interested in investigating may look up statistics per school using the U.S. Department of Education’s Campus Safety and Security Database, which allows users to find crime data on a particular school or compare multiple schools at once. But researching this type of data is only one piece of the safety puzzle.
Assessing and Comparing College Safety & Security Measures
Crime Prevention Measures are Just One Aspect of College Safety
But students have more to think about than legal offenses. Keeping safe from internet scams, Here are some things to keep in mind while assessing the apparent safety of a college or university.
Crime Stats Only Show Incidents that Have Been Reported to Police
They don’t necessarily reflect how many incidents actually happen. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports nearly 75% of crimes at schools in general go unreported, often because they are dealt with internally by school officials, or are deemed private or personal matters and are left to the individuals involved to choose to resolve.
Check For Campus Safety Programs and Initiatives
Does the school sponsor a Safe or Sober Ride program to prevent students an alternative to walking alone or driving under the influence? What about a disaster recovery plan? Check to see what types of safety and security initiatives the college or university officially sponsors. Others common student safety support systems could include 24-hour crisis lines, providing counselors for victims of crimes or overall mental health support, and dedicated campus safety training sessions for students. Ask an admissions advisor about the types of programs designed to help maintain student safety.
Online Students Especially, Ask Questions to Understand Privacy and Technology Policies
Understand How The School Communicates Emergencies to Students and Parents
If there were a crisis situation, how would the school let you know? It could be something as simple as calling a snow day, or as serious as communication during a wildfire evacuation or an active shooter event. Parents and guardians can also ask an admissions advisor how their student’s college or university plans to communicate with them should a serious event occur.
Seek Out Student Perspectives
Sometimes the best people to ask about a college or university’s reputation for safety are other students. Check online chats or message board threads, or ask a student advisor or campus tour guide for their thoughts. Safety concerns like cyberbullying or other forms of personal harassment may not be so obvious to administrators, but will likely be concerns student peers have heard about.
Additional Campus Security and Safety Resources
Campus Safety Magazine
An online magazine covering news, emergency management, and technology topics, with a special section dedicated exclusively to college campus safety.
Center for Campus Fire Safety
Designed to specifically address fire and fire safety related issues on college campuses, the Center for Campus Fire Safety is a national advocacy organization.
An organization supporting the Clery Act, which promotes crime reporting training and compliance on college campuses.
National Center for Campus Public Safety: Affiliate Program List
This helpful directory provides a wealth of resources focused on college safety, student health and security.
Safe Havens International
A non-profit organization providing schools the resources and training necessary to handle difficult safety and security issues.
U.S. Department of Education, Campus Safety & Security Laws & Guidance
The official site for technical knowledge and the legal handbook regarding campus safety and security reporting.
AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
Do this for you
Explore your possibilities- find schools with programs you’re interested in and clear a path for your future.