How to Effectively Communicate Campus Safety to Students
For many students, college is the first time they’re living away from their parents. The independence from family (and being able to stay up late with dorm mates) can be exciting.
But this newfound freedom can also potentially expose students to risky or dangerous situations.
School safety is a top priority for college campuses. No matter how safe students try to be, it’s impossible to be prepared for every instance of campus crime — like theft and assault.
It’s the job of your school’s administration to remain proactive and help protect students while they’re attending classes, campus events, and living in dorms or off-campus housing.
But do you have a campaign or safety strategy in place? Are you using the best tools to get the word out?
We put together a review of common campus safety issues and some of the communication strategies universities can use to keep their students safe.
Crime on College Campuses
Campus safety is an important topic on college campuses. And with the increase in cyber theft and public health concerns, burglary and assault aren’t the only issues topping the list.
Here’s a brief rundown of college campus security problems, and steps you and your students can take to stay prepared and aware:
COVID-19 has shifted the landscape of college campuses across the country, with most universities adopting a fully remote or hybrid model. But many universities have kept parts of their campuses and student housing open.
To prepare for this, many universities like the University of Washington have rolled out safety resources for students and instructors. These include a COVID exposure app and lectures and webinars.
Check out the list below and consider adding some of these strategies to your checklist:
- Many schools have enforced their students and staff to use mobile apps like CampusClear, which is a free self-screening tool for the coronavirus. CampusClear is a great way to keep track of potential COVID cases, which can help slow and stop the spreading of the virus.
- Schools like Columbia University have dedicated webpages on their school’s site with information such as federal and state protocols, links to safety training, and information for getting tested.
- You could also host a mask giveaway by tabling at popular campus locations or by having students visit certain departments. These are good opportunities to educate students on hygiene and provide other useful items like hand sanitizer.
Sexual Assault and Physical Violence
Even though campus crimes have decreased over the last decade, issues like sexual assault are unfortunately still a present threat to college students.
Communicating steps to decrease assault isn’t easy. But many schools are using different types of methods to prepare their students:
- Educational blogs are an easy way to keep students and their families engaged with up-to-date sex assault information and resources.
- You can also create a form for students can to file complaints directly to a Title IX officer.
- Some schools (and even the U.S. Air Force) use an app called Circle of 6. Circle of 6 lets you quickly and discreetly send out pre-filled messages and notifications to friends when a student is in danger.
- The Clery Act requires schools to have crime and emergency information publicly available to students. A great way to do this is to send out mass school emails from your communications or student life office. You can even add these emails to your school-wide email marketing calendar and strategic plan.
Active Shooter Guidelines
While school shootings have decreased over the last few years, they still remain a pressing issue for many campuses.
There are many active shooter training videos available on the web, but training doesn’t have to be limited to online.
- Consider having your campus police department host a socially-distanced campus event or visit to educate students on what to do if an active shooter is on campus.
- Students at Yale University created an active shooter alert app. If your school doesn’t have the resources to create its own app, Guard911 is an app you can promote to your students. Guard911 can significantly reduce the response time to hear from law enforcement during campus emergencies.
- Posting signs with alerts and useful phone numbers are a great way to make information available around campus.
- Schools like Hope College have even installed Code Blue Emergency Phones that connect you to campus safety with the push of a button. Your location is also sent through GPS so officers can get to students quickly if they’re in danger.
Whether it’s a motor vehicle or technological items like cell phones and laptops, burglary is continuously listed as a common campus crime.
It’s impossible to completely prevent campus theft, but there are many ways that students can prepare for and reduce their chances of having their personal items stolen.
- LexisNexis Community Crime Map and SpotCrime are some of the websites you and your students can use to monitor burglaries and other crimes on campus and nearby neighborhoods.
- Getting the word out through your university social media accounts can extend your reach to students from their phones. This is a great way of reaching students in real-time, as 90% of college-age students use at least one social media platform.
- Theft is not just limited to physical items — cyber theft is another issue affecting campuses. Whether it’s through an email blast or social media post, security and privacy tips should be sent out to your students.
Jumpstart Your Campus Safety Campaign Today
There’s no way to prevent all instances of crime on campuses. But sending out relevant safety information through a variety of in-person and online methods can keep your school safe and welcoming.
Make sure that campus safety is part of your overall campus communications strategies and efforts.
Protecting your entire campus is essential, but so is supporting students experiencing personal issues like mental health and wellness.
Learn more about how you can use digital marketing to get more students to seek help for their mental health >