Safety is often overlooked by UNC students. They cross busy streets and walk home from the library late at night without thinking twice. Every now and then, they encounter a problem. For those in need, there are several local services to provide legal assistance and preventive measures.
The UNC Department of Public Safety acts as a local aid for students who may have concerns regarding a residence hall or individual circumstance.
On- and off-campus safety tips for students
- Do not jaywalk. Drivers are supposed to be cautious, but they still might not see you. Wandering across the road is illegal now, too.
- If you are going on a first date, meet in a public place initially.
- Never leave your drink unattended or accept a pre-opened one.
- If you have consumed alcohol or other illegal substances, use the buddy system when using crosswalks. You might not be able to safely proceed alone.
- Feel free to call a UNC Point-to-Point demand-response van at (919) 962-7867. However, the service has a limited number of drop-off points, most of which are on-campus.
- Have your key ready in hand when you arrive at your destination. The quicker you can get in your door, the less likely someone could bother you.
- Pay attention to the blue lights around campus. Press the button on an emergency phone pole to call the DPS response center.
- Try not to walk near dense, dark foliage. If you have to, be sure to protect your wallet or purse.
- Visit the DPS website at http://www.dps.unc.edu for information on self defense classes.
Randy Young, UNC Department of Public Safety spokesman, advised students to be alert and if a situation of concern arises, call the department.
“Be on the watch and report anything suspicious. The 911 call is not just for criminal situations,” Young stated.
One of the main problems on campus is stealing.
“We see a couple hundred larcenies a year, but we see very few acts of physical violence or assault”, Young said.
Taking precautions at night is especially important. UNC SafeWalk is another safety service on campus that boasts over 2000 walks since it began in January 2010. A walk includes a female and male pair who are trained by the Department of Public Safety.
“We’re increasing the perception of safety on campus which helps produce a better learning environment for students,” said Christina Lynch, SafeWalk director and cofounder.
This is important for students at the library around 2 a.m. who would spend the night in the library instead of walking back alone to their room, Lynch noted.
Although newly founded, the program is very popular. It is a free service to students and an invaluable resource for those walking alone at night.
“What we strive for is to increase perception of safety on campus and actual safety,” Lynch said.
Students who wish to use SafeWalk can look online at http://safewalk.unc.edu for more information, or call (919) 962-7233.
Rave Guardian provides a great alternative to the buddy system. Students call the toll-free number, activate a timer and then walk to their destination. Campus police will respond if the student does not call upon arrival. Registration is required before using the service. You can find more information at http://www.unc.edu/uncmobile/index.php/guardian.
Off-campus students deal with different safety issues, such as minimal outside lighting, a broken lock or the lack of a deadlock. They often contact their landlords but receive a slow response. Student Legal Services is available for those who need free counsel on a student’s right to the law.
Dorothy Bernholz, director of Student Legal Services, said the service fulfills students’ right to have an attorney and helps enforce the laws concerning students’ home safety and landlords’ responsibilities.
Legal Services provides students with free legal advice and services from its board-certified lawyers.
“We represent them as attorneys— we go to court and litigate if need be,” she said.
If students do wish to use the program’s attorneys, Bernholz said they should make an appointment.
“Instead of trying to second-guess, just call us and let us work with you.”
When working with landlords independent of outside assistance, Bernholz said to contact them initially via e-mail – it is an undeniable action in comparison to a phone call.
In the case of larceny, Bernholz said most robbers target items like computers, televisions and jewelry.
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