Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Public Safety urges new student safety

Welcome Week presents new temptations

Welcome Week is a time for freshmen to get to know each other. For many, that means attending frat parties. They can be a great place to meet new people, but there are risks involved with the newly acquired freedom that freshman finally find in college, according to Lieutenant Rima Sifri, Crime Prevention and RAD Coordinator at AU.

Sifri listed a number of things to watch out for when attending parties. Car-stuffing is one of her main concerns. Students pile as many people into a car as they can fit to get to or from a party.

"Everyone piles in one car, and I actually pulled someone out of the car and asked, 'Do you know who the driver is?' And they said no," Sifri said. "If you don't have a vehicle, take the Metro to the place or don't go to the party. Or maybe go with some friends so all of you are in the same car together."

Sarah Brown, a member of Women's Initiative thinks it is most important for students to do what feels right.

"We tell students to trust their instincts," she said, explaining that if they are uncomfortable or unsafe, they need to get out of the situation.

Brown advises students to watch their drinks at a party, if they do choose to drink. Students should avoid setting their cups down and coming back to drink them because they may have been spiked while they were gone.

"Choose not to drink if you don't know the people you're with too well," Brown said.

Tommie Leon, a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences and member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, thinks it is important to plan ahead before a party so that students don't end up alone at the end of the night.

"If [you] are going to go out be sure you are in a group and everyone knows when to meet up again at the end of the night to make sure no one gets left behind," he said.

If a student is walking home at night or feels unsafe, Brown suggests taking advantage of the Public Safety Escort Service. Anywhere on campus, students can call Public Safety and they will walk with them anywhere they need to go on AU grounds. Now that there's AU housing in the Berkshire Apartments, Women's Initiative is working with the student government to expand the escort service.

The blue lights are another safety option at AU. The safety lights are the "fastest way to get help if you're in trouble," according to Brown. The blue poles are available all over campus for students to contact Public Safety in the event of an emergency. Students can press a call button on the pole and are immediately in contact with Public Safety, should they need any help.

Sifri also believes theft to be one of the biggest problems on campus. Laptops are frequently stolen when students leave them unattended in the library. Sometimes dorm rooms will be entered when left unlocked, and things are taken.

"Lock your doors," Sifri said. "We've had instances where we've arrested people, testing door handles and going, 'Oh sorry I thought it was Jane's room.' If no one is in there they take [the valuables]. They're going to go in there, snatch what they can and leave."

In 2007, there were 30 burglaries on AU's main campus, according to the AU Annual Security Reports.

Overall, Sifri believes students just need to be reasonable and use common sense to stay out of trouble.

"This is a great campus; it's very safe, but the [freshmen] don't have their parents anymore," Sifri said. "They just have to practice some common sense and that's really what it comes down to."

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