Often at University we’re so busy having the time of our lives that we can let our guards down and forget about our personal safety. Here are Devan’s top 5 tips to staying safe whilst still having a jol.
There are few that deny their university days being amongst the best times of their lives. For the first time in their lives, most people are freed from the watchful eye of their parents. This newfound freedom of university, as exciting and liberating as it may seem, is actually some of the most dangerous times of our lives.
I was fortunate enough to never be a victim of crime during my 5-year university career. I believe this was due to being vigilant about my surroundings and getting into really good habits regarding my safety. These are my top 5 tips for staying safe during your university days.
Always Remain Vigilant
Always be sure to keep your eye out for suspicious or out of the ordinary activity. You need to be wide-awake and alert at all times of the day for signs of unusual behaviour that could affect you.
- If someone is following you, change your route and head into a crowded area.
- If a suspicious car is following you, head straight to the police station.
Don’t be fooled that criminal behaviour only happens during the darkest hours. It can happen anytime and it’s really important to not let your guard down. Keep your belongings out of sight when possible and don’t flash expensive gadgets like cellphones or laptops around when in public spaces. Always remember that there’s a big difference between being vigilant and paranoid; the former is perfectly normal and won’t affect your mental health, the latter will.
Head Out in Groups. If you walk home alone after a night out during the early hours of the morning, then you’re making yourself an easy target for a criminal. It’s important to stick with groups of friends, at least three or more. Even if your friends decide to leave the club early whilst you’re rocking the dance floor showing your kick-ass moves, make a responsible decision and leave with them. Most unfortunate incidents happen to people who are alone at night when they shouldn’t be. Know Where Security Is .When you’re on campus, be sure to know the exact locations of security offices or personnel. Whether that be the nearest police station or university campus security. Knowing where to report a crime shortly after it has been committed gives security officials the best chance of catching the criminal. You may also require urgent assistance or help and knowing where the closest point of safety is, is really important. Speak Out. Creating awareness is key to addressing crime. If you’ve been a victim of crime or your rights have been violated in any way, don’t keep quiet about it. Make sure that you report the incident to the university or at your local police station. Also, be sure to talk to people you know about it. Not only will this inform others of the incident and therefore make them more aware and vigilant, but it will also be good if you suffer from post-traumatic stress (oftentimes people suffer but do not realise it). Hearing stories from others allows you to avoid certain areas that are crime “hot spots”. Never Drive Drunk. Driving after a few drinks is not only placing your own life in danger, but also those around you. It’s simply no worth it to drive home after a few drinks (or even one drink!), especially with revolutionary app’s like Uber being available. In my university days the likes of Uber were not around, but we still made use of old school taxi’s. Not only is Uber probably the easiest and most convenient app on the market at the moment, but also extremely affordable when traveling to and from campus (or wherever the nightlife is). I suspect that on most campuses the total cost getting home from a night out will be somewhere around R20 per person. Getting a criminal record at such a young age or taking the life of someone else is something that you’ll live with for the rest of your life and quite frankly – isn’t worth it. Be smart and take an Uber – everyone wins!
Safety During Protests
Something that’s sprung up over the past two years is student protests on campuses around the country. I think this is quite an important area to address in terms of being safe on campus.
These protests are becoming quite commonplace in South Africa and unfortunately they arise with little warning – seemingly overnight. Adding to this, we’ve recently seen that student protests on university campuses can turn violent rather quickly and unexpectedly. Buildings have been set alight, crowded areas stampeded, and stun grenades and teargas used to disperse people. This has placed many lives in danger. In most cases, frustrated individuals take the law into their own hands and become violent. There is absolutely nothing wrong with peacefully protesting something that you care deeply about and feel needs to be addressed, (read this article) always remember that peaceful protests are more effective than violent ones. Be vigilant with your surroundings and if you feel things are taking a turn for the worse: be sure to leave the area as quickly as possible. Law enforcement personnel oftentimes cannot distinguish who exactly the culprits are and you may get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Keeping it safe
During our university days we have many things on our minds: attending lectures, passing subjects, the crazy parties. We’re often are having so many new experiences that we let down our guard and forget about simple yet important things, life our safety. Don’t. Things can escalate quickly without you even knowing it, and it’s always better to stay of the safe side of things. Finally, be sure to memorise these three important emergency numbers in case you need them:
SA police service: 10111
Cell Phone Emergency: 112
Here at EduOne, we’re firm believers in having fun whilst studying or working. However, we’re also smart enough to know that staying safe while doing so is the most important decision we can make.