Yesterday was the five year anniversary of the tragedy at Virginia Tech.  For those of us who work at college campuses nationwide, the safety and security of our students is paramount.  In light of what happened to our sister ACC school just to the north,  both in 2007 and again this past December, I am especially thinking about safety today.

Parents, there is an excellent web site called Wake Ready that has information that you and your students should be aware of in case of an emergency.  It covers weather-related issues as well as other emergencies.  Please take a few minutes and read it so you know what Wake Forest would do in an emergency – and make sure your students have seen this as well.  Parents and family members have enormous influence over their students, and if you suggest to them that they ought to take a look at this website, it will mean more than if the Parent Programs office does.

One of the emergency terms that students may not be aware of is the concept of “Shelter in Place” – staying put during an emergency vs. venturing out somewhere else.  The Shelter in Place page describes the do’s and don’t’s of sheltering in place.  Again, hopefully this information would never be needed, but with the tornadoes of this weekend in the Midwest, it’s not a bad reminder.

Finally, a few times a year, it is probably a good idea for you to talk with your student about good general safety practices and precautions he or she should take.   These are quick and easy things a student can do to minimize his or her risk of crimes – not just at Wake Forest, but anywhere.  The ones that come to mind most immediately to tell your students are:

Keep your residence hall room locked, even when you are there.  While it is tempting not to lock your door if you want to step down the hall and visit a friend, if you keep it locked you greatly increase the security of both your property and your physical person.  Do not agree to leave your room unlocked at night because your roommate is going out and doesn’t want to take his/her keys because they are too bulky.   Do not prop doors open in the residence hall.

Do not leave valuables unguarded. This goes not just for the residence hall room, but any public spaces.  I frequently see ladies leave a purse or a backpack on the counter of the restroom sink when they use the restroom.  Any one could take that bag and make a dash for it.  Similarly, people leave laptops, cell phones, or iPads in the library while they go grab a Starbucks.  Again, it only takes a moment for that to be gone.

Do not walk alone late at night. Try to plan your trips across campus with a buddy, or plan to do y0ur errands earlier in the day.

Be cautious about alcohol consumption. We all know people’s judgment becomes impaired with alcohol use.  Be sure you do not put yourself in a risky situation because you have had too much to drink.

Each family will have its own ideas about personal responsibility and expected behavior, but we all want to keep our kids safe.  Next time you talk to yours, think about talking about safety and sharing some of these web sites and links.  The Boy Scout motto of “Be Prepared” is a good one.

Categories: campus life


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