A few tips for staying safe at the big U

By using common sense and some free services, it is extremely easy to stay safe while at the University. Emergency boxes, like the one above, can be found throughout campus and Campustown. Beck Diefenbach

By using common sense and some free services, it is extremely easy to stay safe while at the University. Emergency boxes, like the one above, can be found throughout campus and Campustown. Beck Diefenbach

By Danielle Gaines

How dangerous is the campus? Are there places I should avoid? What can I do to stay safe?

These questions may ring in the heads of students as they enter the world on their own for the first time.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe when traveling around campus.

Traveling at night

Lt. Holly Nearing of the Champaign Police Department recommends that students travel in groups.

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“We discourage people from doing too much walking alone at night,” she said.

Nearing said the most effective way to stay safe is to make a plan with your group and then make sure everyone sticks to it, whether you are going out for a few drinks or to study at the library.

A night on the town

Nearing recommended that students consume alcohol in moderation when going out.

“We find that most serious stranger on stranger crime involves alcohol,” Nearing said. “If (people) are drinking they are placing themselves at a higher to be victimized.”

When going out to drink, it may even be a good idea to create a “designated walker,” said University police office Steve Mechling at an alcohol awareness event last year.

“Being impaired and just walking around can be dangerous,” he said.

Free services to keep you safe

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District also offers a program called Safe Rides that students can utilize. The program offers free rides to students that are out late and request a pick up from nearly any location on campus by calling (217) 265-RIDE.

The University Police also offer a program called Safe Walks that is available for short walking trips on campus. Students can utilize this program by calling (217) 333-1216 or using an emergency campus phone.

LiveUp is a campaign for campus safety that aims to increase students’ awareness of key safety issues, thereby decreasing the frequency of life-threatening incidents, according to the program’s Web site, www.looklistenlive.com.

Students can get free podcasts; free mp3 downloads from local artists and other promotional offers as well as safety information at the Web site.

Areas to avoid

“Areas that are not well traveled or don’t have a lot of good lighting are areas where people are certainly more vulnerable,” Nearing said.

The LiveUp campaign advises students to go with their guts.

“Trust what you feel. If you feel funny about someone or someplace, act on it,” the Web site says. “Go to a busier street, call a friend on your cell phone, ask someone nearby for help or duck into a local shop.”

Things to have

The LiveUp campaign recommends that students carry pepper spray with them as a safety precaution.

Nearing issues a warning on the weapon though.

“Be aware that pepper spray can be taken out of your hand and be used on you,” she said.

Students should also carry a cell phone with them in case of an emergency, but not allow it to become a distraction.

“Talking to someone on the cell phone gives you a sense of security,” Nearing said. “But it gives the bad guys incentive; they want your cell phone, they want your bag, they want your iPod. Therefore, you should keep them concealed.”

Emergency phone numbers

Emergency – 911

CU Directory Assistance – 411

Dean of Students

(Student Emergencies) – 217.333.0050

Rape Crisis 24-Hour Helpline – 217.355.5203

UIUC Exterior Lighting Repairs – 217.333.0340

MTD SafeRides(Free rides to students out late) – 217.265.RIDE (7433)

A and L Taxi – 217.621.9906

C-U Taxi – 217.359.UOFI (8634)

Checker Cab – 217.355.0200

Cindy’s Cab Service – 217.384.7777

Corky’s Cab Co. – 217.892.4401

Old Timer’s Taxi Co. – 217.202.8768

Scottie’s Taxi – 217.480.3400

Special Care Transport, Inc.-217.344.8731

Yellow Checker Cab – 217.355.3553

Information courtesy of www.looklistenlive.com