Keeping Yourself Safe

Five Tips for First-Year Freshmen

Staying+safe+on+campus

Staying safe on campus

1. Safe drinking:

Unless they have strong personal beliefs, college students want to drink. You’re away from home, you have a brand new social scene and you can be whoever you want… However, at the risk of sounding like a PSA that’s trying too hard to be cool, “Slow your roll my guy 😎 ” 

Alcohol does this funny thing where it lowers your inhibitions, motor functions and ability to do what we in the business like to call consent.  And no matter how cute that person is, you don’t really know them yet. Sure, it may be fun to sip down malibu and coke after malibu and coke, but you don’t really know them that well. 

This is especially true if they have been here longer than you–not only is there a certain power dynamic, but there’s also the factor of: you don’t know what they’re capable of once the malibu-cokes kick in. 

Statistically speaking around 26.4% of women and 6.8% of men experience some sort of sexual violence on college campuses. Which means drinking, especially alone, with total strangers is potentially-very-dangerous. 

This isn’t to say that every potential drinking buddy is a raging monster or that you should spend every moment scared for your life. But also being suspicious toward the guy from classroom management who keeps negging you to go drinking with him at Dahomey could keep you safe. 

If something tragic does happen, remember: You are the victim, and it is never your fault. Delta State Univ. has a ton of resources and places to reach out, including the Counseling Center.

The campus also operates under Title IX which protects your rights in case of any unfortunate event. There are also numbers you can call which can be a life saver in situations like these. You can reach the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Also, having a healthy support group will help you feel safe and protected in such an event. 

2. Safety in Numbers:

Campuses are large and usually old. This means that there are a lot of unlit walkways if…for whatever reason…you’re walking around at night. If you need to do some last minute work in the ceramics room, or you just want to spend a night in the drawing studio, it’s best not to go alone. 

If you do go alone, make sure you’re well acquainted with the area and people who come in and out of those buildings. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with staff and professors. In any case, if you feel unsafe, it’s best to make sure that there’s one other person you can trust nearby. Delta State Univ. has a safe campus compared to most, but especially at night, nowhere is 100% safe, save for your dorm room. 

If you must go alone, it is proactive to carry things with you for self defense. Pepper spray, whistles and alarms can be found relatively cheap. A good flashlight can also be your best friend on dark nights. And if all else fails, a good taser never hurts–unless you’re the creep in question. 

Of course, it’s always better to make sure that you have someone you can trust with you, simply for the sake that two-or-more is better than just you. 

3. Judge the Vibe:

It sounds like some sort of mystical woo-woo but it can keep you alive. If a person gives you a weird gut feeling, it’s best to trust it. And I don’t mean if you don’t like their fashion sense, run away from them…if they’re asking way too personal questions, making comments that make you uncomfortable or violating your personal space–especially during a pandemic–that’s when it’s best to trust your flight instinct. 

There’s a difference between “friendly conversation” and asking questions that not even your doctor should know. If the vibe is off, it’s off, and for your own self preservation– run. You don’t need a scrying crystal to tell you that if they’re asking what clothes you sleep in after two minutes of conversation, end that conversation and very quickly find a friend. In general, that’s need to know information, and truthfully they don’t need to know

It may seem like painfully obvious advice, but sometimes the need to make a good impression will filter out the blinding crimson glow of a bright red flag. 

4. Friends Are Not Pharmacists:

While college is a time of experimentation, some things just need to be left alone. This is not Euphoria, and you are not Zendaya. ”

There are a lot of substances you can try in college. Some of them are innocuous like caffeine, alcohol or CBD, and others are obviously more dangerous. The need to have friends, especially in college, is a powerful drive. But if you don’t feel comfortable trying something, don’t. No good friend will pressure you into it. 

There’s a difference between offering something and pushing it. Simply giving in to shut them up (or worse, because you were bullied into it) is not consent. 

While college is a time of experimentation, some things just need to be left alone. This is not Euphoria, and you are not Zendaya. 

There is never a good reason for your so-called friends to poke and prod at you to do things you don’t feel comfortable doing. If it comes down to it, Delta State has a lot of people and a broad social scene with plenty of clubs–you can find new friends. What you can’t do is get back time that was given to people who don’t actually care about your well-being. This may sound harsh, but some people aren’t worth the energy. 

Your physical and mental health should come first and anyone who can’t respect that, is not worth keeping around. Delta State’s Counseling Center can help with peer pressure and substance abuse. DSU CARES can also be very useful in the event that you need them. 

5. You Are More Important Than Your Friends:

That’s not to give you an ego, that is to remind you that no matter how much you like someone, you need to sleep, eat, study and generally take care of yourself. If you have to choose between hanging out with someone and getting a shower, choose the shower. Either they can wait on you, or they can go to Hey Joe’s with someone else. 

You should never let someone manipulate you out of taking care of yourself either. If they get mad at you for taking time to sleep or what you choose to eat–consider this, maybe they aren’t fantastic friends. Part of protecting yourself, means protecting yourself from manipulative assholes! 

Your health, safety and sanity come before anything or anyone else. He, she, xe or they aren’t owed your body, your mind or your focus if you don’t have the energy to give it. 

I’ve been in college for a long time, and I’ve met a lot of people and as shocking as this may sound, some of them were complete scumbags. 

From Someone Who Knows…

College can be fun, but also taxing, and keeping yourself safe is more important than wild parties and fun weekends. You need to protect yourself and your friends before you jump headlong into situations that could be dangerous. You are not a prude for saying no. If someone can’t respect that, then maybe they’re not a fantastic person after all. 

No one should ever pressure you beyond your comfort zone. It’s totally okay to not do something that could get you hurt or worse. What is never okay is continuing to push the issue long after someone has said no. 

It’s been said time and time again, but for as many times as it needs to be said: No Means No.