Column: Safety comes in many forms with the start of the semester

Maddie Zimmerman, Staff Writer

Your parents may nag you to “be safe” before heading to campus in the fall. You may brush them off and think that they are being overprotective and paranoid – but what they are saying is true. 

When mentioning safety there are several things that come to mind. I feel that there are two main categories: personal safety and environmental safety.

When it comes to personal safety, I think of things in your personal life that you should be doing to keep yourself safe. Whether that is going to bed early enough to get a good night sleep, eating a snack in between classes to keep your energy up or even something as simple as drinking water to help with dehydration.

You may think that those things are no-brainers, but when you get to college and are tasked with managing a heavy class schedule along with taking care of yourself, it can be challenging to stay on top of everything.

College is all about time management.

You are alone for (more than likely) your first time. You need to make your personal safety a priority.

College is also very busy. You may have multiple assignments due per day, you have to cook yourself meals, you have to do laundry, you want to spend time with friends.

You need to make sure that you are making time for yourself to do your day-to-day tasks and also take care of your physical and mental health. You can take a day out of the week or even just an hour to do some self-care. Take a break from doing tasks and homework to do a facemask, read, go on a walk or spend time with your pets. Over time, you’ll find out what works for you and what doesn’t. You need to invest time in yourself in order to make your college experience a successful and healthy one. 

Along with personal safety, there is your environmental safety. These are the more obvious aspects people think of when it comes to safety.

On campus, there is an app where you can have a female and male police officer walk you to wherever you need to go at night. The app is called “The Laker Guardian.” The app includes several safety features such as having a location tracker, a panic button, an anonymous text tip hotline that goes directly to dispatch and more.

As a young woman on campus, it really makes me feel safer knowing that there is an option if I need to walk on campus at night.

Off campus, my number one tip is the buddy system. Yes, the buddy system we learned in third grade. Being in a small group is safer than if you are walking alone.

Recently, there have been reports of break-ins and even shots fired at off-campus apartments in Allendale.

Hopefully I can avoid these situations altogether, but I make sure that someone knows where I am supposed to be before I head out in case something goes wrong. I share my location with my boyfriend and roommates on Find my Friends on my iPhone. This way if something goes wrong, they know where I am in case they would need to come get me. 

Another part of staying safe is knowing your surroundings and who is around you.

Are you alone? Are you in a group? Where is the person you came with currently at? These kinds of questions can help ensure that you are putting yourself in a safe environment.

If something were to happen, you would know where your friends were at and where you could go to be safe? Keep people in the loop of where you are and what your plans are. The more people you go with or make aware that you are going somewhere, the safer you are. 

All in all, your safety should be your top priority when at college. Make sure that you are not only taking care of your physical and mental health but also being aware of your surroundings and looking out for others. By applying those few things, you will have a fun, safe and successful college year.