When choosing a college, think safety first

Life away from home can be fun, but personal safety is a must

Kristen Crouch

For students just beginning their high school career, the idea of going to college may seem like a million years away. Let me be the first to tell you, the time to make decisions creeps up on you faster than you think.

As seniors, the anxiety and suspense starts to wear on you. Important questions such as which areas you intend to study, whether you want to go to a big university or a smaller community college start to creep up. Maybe you plan on enrolling in an online degree program, not to mention the decision on whether or not you plan on going period.

A lot of factors play a role on your decision making. As students we should be worried about our studies, not how we are going to afford our higher education. But in this day and age, a sad fact is that we now also have to worry about our own safety if we decide to attend a university or live on campus.

Many Hoosier students plan on furthering their education on campus at Ball State University. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s website, in the year 2011 there were eight forced sexual offences on campus against students where criminals were charged and sentenced.

Two years later, 17 forced sexual offences were reported; more than double from previous years. In fact, the highest ever reported on campus.

At the same college in 2012, there were nine reported burglaries in student housing where in 2013 there were 31 reported burglaries.

At Indiana University in Bloomington, the numbers are far more shocking. In the year 2011 there were 11 reported forced sexual assaults and 89 reported burglaries. A year later there were 27 reported forced sexual offences and 71 burglaries.

As the crime rate continues to rise for college students, many young adults are weary about leaving the comfort of their home and entering a foreign world. Though these universities admit to doing their best to keep students safe, we continue to hear terrifying stories on the news of young women going missing from colleges around the country, including here in Indiana.

In June of 2011 an IU student named Lauren Spierer went missing after a short lived night of partying with friends. The story has since made national news, her where abouts have never been confirmed and there is strong speculation that she is no longer with us.

Nearly four years later in April of 2015, another IU student named Hannah Wilson was reported missing when she did not show up for class. Her body was later discovered in a rural area about 20 miles from the IU campus. Friends of the victim say that she was last seen at the same bar Lauren Spierer went missing from four years earlier.

It is important to always think ‘safety first’ in today’s cruel world. Even as high school students we have to learn to be safe in our community.

This is not an attempt to scare away future college students, but as we get older we cannot hide behind ignorance. We must make ourselves aware of the dangers that could arise when we leave home and begin growing up.

All universities urge their students to take precautions when attending their schools. If you must walk at night, try to walk in groups or pairs. The more eyes and ears, the better. Walk in well-lit areas. Avoid dark where criminals could be hiding. It may seem obvious, but keep your doors locked – your dorm room, your car door.

Never make yourself an easy target. College is the beginning of the rest of your life; where you truly find yourself. It’s time to make it or break it. Don’t go nuts, know your limits and keep your head in the books.

If you decide that campus life is the right choice for you, don’t ignore the facts and, most importantly, keep yourself safe.