Staying Alert on Campus

The first day of college jitters. Meeting your new roomie. Finding your way to the dining commons. Getting your student ID. Saying goodbye to the parents. Making new friends. Setting up for your first night in a strange room in a strange place. No one can escape these nerves and uncertainties, but these emotions arise instinctively to keep you safe. They make you alert and aware of your surroundings. They may even keep you up at night for a little while. Usually by now those feelings fade into the background because people become friends, places become familiar, and your campus becomes home. And usually home is a place you feel safe and secure. However, as a student in college, it is important to not get too comfortable with your surroundings and new found friends.

For every 1,000 college women living on a campus, 35 rapes happen every academic year, and Fewer than 5% of these assaults are reported to law enforcement officials (“The Sexual Victimization of College Women” published by the U.S. Dept. of Justice in December 2000).  Also 1 out of 6 college women report having been the victim of rape or attempted rape during the preceding year (National Survey of Sexual Violence on College Campuses, based on 1998 Ms. Project on Campus Sexual Assault).

Always keep a finger on the pulse of that same instinct you had your first night at school. You will find that this nervous instinct will flare up sometimes. Call it your conscience or your mom’s voice in your head or a sixth sense; in any case, don’t ignore it because it represents your biological alarm system. It’s the smoke detectors of your mind alerting you to potential danger. The unknown is obviously scary, but the too well-known can sometimes be the most dangerous. So, make a habit of tapping into that “funny feeling.” Even better, voice your concern out loud to yourself or a friend, it makes it more real that way and might save you from getting into a potentially risky situation.

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