Keeping Yourself Safe


  • Introduction
    Most of you are about to enter a new period of your life. You will hear about having to get yourself up for classes, pacing your academic work yourself to get it all finished, and generally being more responsible for yourself without others being around to do it for you. For others, it is a new direction for an adult life, with new challenges and new problems. Hopefully for all of you, they will be welcome changes as you move ahead in your life.

    Some of theses changes will go far beyond the academic demands of Capital. It is easy to assume that you can handle them, but you may not be aware of all that is encompassed. To ease any transitions, these pages will outline the areas that relate to your safety, security and well-being.

    Many Capital students come from smaller towns and may not have had much experience living in a large city. While you may have known everyone in your town or high school, in a city almost every face is a new one. Living in a large city can be exciting and educational, but you are responsible for your own safety. The advice and procedures cited in the following sections should allow you to maximize your experience at Capital, in Bexley and in Columbus and still maintain reasonable safety.

    Capital University complies with the requirements of the federal Student Right to Know and Campus Security Act of 1990. Written university policies and information required by the act are available to students and families.

    Department of Public Safety
    Capital University provides Public Safety officers on campus 24 hours a day seven days a week for your protection. The Department of Public Safety office is staffed from 8:00 a.m. until midnight, Monday through Friday during the school year. Summer office hours are 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Other than during those hours Public Safety officers may be reached using the after-hours number. As representatives of the campus community, Public Safety officers should be treated with cooperation and respect.

    Students are encouraged to use Public Safety officers as escorts by calling ahead to have an officer escort them to and from parking lots and other buildings on campus. Capital's Public Safety officers have arrest powers and have the same capabilities as any other law enforcement officer. Public Safety officers are here to provide a safe and secure environment for the entire Capital community. Capital's Public Safety officers are in close touch and cooperate effectively with surrounding law enforcement agencies, if needed. The Bexley Police Department is on Main Street across campus and is very cooperative as a resource to the Capital University Department of Public Safety. Capital University encourages accurate and prompt reporting of all crimes to the campus Department of Public Safety. The Department of Public Safety will then utilize the assistance of other law enforcement agencies, if needed, to assist in all criminal matters. The appropriate courses of action will then be enforced by all involved agencies.

    During the course of the year the Residence Life Office and the Department of Public Safety will provide programs relating to various aspects of your safety and security. Students are encouraged to attend these programs.

    Theft
    Probably the most common crime problem on a university campus is theft. Most of this is of the petty variety, such as the $10 you may leave on your dresser or the unlocked bicycle you leave outside an academic building. However, it can also mean bigger things like car theft and credit card fraud. Below are some of the potential problem areas and precautions you should take.

    Doors
    Whenever you leave your residence hall room, even if only for a few minutes you should lock your door. It would be comforting to believe that those nice people who live down the hall or street would never think of taking anything from you. They might not, but other people might unless you lock your door to prevent it.

    To provide for the security of the residence halls' living areas while allowing appropriate access for visitors and residents, Capital uses a system of locks, with keys to a building being issued only to residents of that building. This enables the building residents to have access to the living areas while restricting visitors to the lobby areas. There is also a system of alarms of both the exit paddle and delayed action type that allows doors to the living areas to be monitored, ensuring they are closed and latched. This prevents the propping open of doors and, through the sounding of the alarm, notifies the staff if a door is not latched properly. If you prop open a door for a forgetful friend who calls you because of forgotten keys you may also be letting in anyone else who wants to enter through the door. For the security of yourself and others you should not allow access to your building by anyone other than those who are supposed to have it.

    Make sure your room door and the exterior doors to the building are locked when they are supposed to be locked. If your room door lock has a problem, or if you or your roommate lose a key, it is your responsibility to notify your Residence Hall Director (RHD) as soon as possible. The RHD can call maintenance right away if it is a real safety concern. If you find exterior doors unlocked that should be locked, call your RHD, Resident Assistant (RA), or Public Safety. Their phone numbers are listed on these pages. Do not let things like this go unreported. They can have serious implications if left unattended.

    Screens
    The screens on each residence hall's first-floor windows are anti-theft/entry screens, not anti-bug screens. Make sure they are in good repair and in place properly. If not notify your RA or RHD to have Physical Plant make the necessary repairs.

    Lobby Desks
    The lobby desks are staffed in the evening in each hall. This is so there is a control point for non-hall residents entering the building. If a visitor is escorted by a resident, can produce a valid Capital ID, or is recognized as a valid guest by the desk worker, access to the building will be allowed. If not the host will need to be called from the lobby and that host will have to come down and escort the guest.
     

     

    Money and Checks
    You should not endorse a check nor cash it until you are ready to use it, and you should not leave checks or cash laying around in plain sight. Bragging about money or just getting paid is an invitation to theft. It is never a good idea to have large amounts of cash in your room, nor do people need to know where you keep your valuables. None of this will make you look "funny" to others nor does it imply a lack of trust. It is simply prudent to keep private matters private, and how much money you have is your business alone. If you use an ATM to obtain money, use outdoor ones that are well lit and in high traffic areas. Be aware of who or what is around you when you approach it and be alert to your surroundings as you use it.

    Credit Cards
    Credit cards are becoming more and more available to university age people. The financial aspects of credit cards are beyond the scope of these pages, but their security aspects are certainly are within it. Like money, you should not broadcast what credit cards you have or leave them laying around. You should not lend credit cards to others. Even if they are trustworthy, they may be careless with the carbons that are produced from a purchase. Make sure that any carbon copies from credit card receipts are not left in stores or restaurants for others to copy the numbers and use. Save the part of the credit card bill that comes with the phone numbers to call if a card is lost or stolen. Make sure your account number is on that part of the bill and then put it in a safe place. If your card does turn up missing or a bill is inaccurate or late, call immediately to avoid any unnecessary or inaccurate charges.

    Valuables
    If you have valuables in the form of jewelry or electronic equipment, do not flaunt them. It only attracts attention that you may not want. If items have serial numbers, copy them down. It is a good idea to leave a copy of your list with your RHD or even Capital's Public Safety Office, just in case you lose yours. Mark your belongings with some permanent marking. That means do not use non-permanent or laundry markers. If the item is metal, etch it with an engraver. Capital's Department of Public Safety has one it will let you use. It is easy and quick to do. Mark possessions where only you would know, as well as marking where it can be easily seen. An item clearly marked is less likely to be stolen, but even if it is, the thief may not think to look for a second ID that you have concealed. Then, if the item turns up, you can positively identify it as yours. This can be important in recovering stolen items. If you have a bicycle, register it with the Bexley Police and always lock it with a U-type lock.
     

     

    Mail
    Each student is assigned a mailbox that is located in the Campus Center. You will receive U.S. mail as well as campus mail through this box. While Capital attempts to maintain the security of the mail, you need to monitor it as well. If you find that your mail is being tampered with or is missing, notify Mail Services personnel immediately. Make sure bills arrive in a timely fashion and are accurate. You should call the companies involved immediately if you find discrepancies or if your bills are late or missing. Your mailbox has a combination lock. You should make sure that your mailbox is locked at all times. If this lock does not function properly, notify the mailroom so that the lock can be repaired.

    If you are robbed

    If you are robbed, report it to the RHD immediately. If your room or belongings have been disturbed, do not touch or move anything until an officer from the Department of Public Safety arrives. The information will be taken down and you will be instructed to also make a report to Department of Public Safety. People have been apprehended after many small bits of information have been compiled, so do not think you have nothing to add. If for no other reason, some insurance companies may require a police report to pay benefits.
     

     

    Telephone
    You may not think of your telephone when you think of safety and security. Along with the potential problem of annoying or obscene calls, the introduction of calling cards and telephone credit cards creates possibilities for misuse of credit. Each of these calls for developing precautionary measures to avoid problems.

    As part of Capital's telephone system, all students living in the residence halls automatically have AT&T Long Distance Service. Each student is issued a personal long distance code by Capital's Information Technology Office to use when making long distance calls. It is imperative that students safeguard this code as payment for ALL calls made with it are the responsibility of the individual to whom it is assigned. Students should never give out their long distance code.
     

     

     Obscene or annoying calls
    Most obscene or annoying calls occur for a day or two and then stop. However if they are particularly disturbing or continue for a week or more call the Information Technology Help Desk (6508). Staff either will take the appropriate action or put you in touch with the correct people.
     

     

    Voice Mail
    If you think that someone has tampered with your voice mail by accessing your messages, changing or altering your message or in any other way, you should contact the Information Technology Help Desk (6508) immediately.
     

     

    The Internet and Your Computer
    The Internet is a double edged sword. It provides information on an almost infinite range of subjects, enables people to communicate over thousands of miles instantaneously and brings the people of the world closer together.

    However, it can also inflict serious injury if you are not careful. It did not take long before thieves, swindlers and sexual predators discovered what opportunities the Internet gave them. It is your responsibility to guard against these people. Here are a few hints and tips.
     

    • Never give your passwords to anyone. It is a good idea to periodically change your passwords to ensure security.
    • Be very careful about giving out your name, address, phone number, credit card numbers and other private information. Once on the Web, they may be accessed by almost anyone unless they are properly secured and even at that, no security system is 100 per cent effective.
    • If you want to meet someone you have spoken with online, NEVER meet them in person for the first time alone. Always take someone with you. Only meet in public places during daylight hours. Do not go anywhere with them and do not get in their car. Do not travel outside your own immediate area to meet them and do not meet them at your own residence.
    • Do not assume that anyone you are talking with online is who they say they are. Studies have shown that large portion or online "chatters" lie. That girl who describes herself as petite, cute and loving outdoor activities could be a 6'4" male locked up in the state prison.
    • If you find or are sent information about a too good to be true plan/scheme, it probably is. Short of inheritance or winning the lottery, there is no such thing as get rich quick, except for the guy you send your money to in these scams!
    • If you are setting up an online identity , be very vague. Do not give out personal information or establish an identity that hints at who/what you really are.
    • Be very cautious about opening e-mail from sources you do not recognize. That's one way viruses are spread. In addition, remember you have no obligation to open any e-mail. If you think a message looks suspicious or the subject does not sound or look like what the addressee might normally send, it might not even be from them at all. Just delete it.
    • Purchase and install a reputable anti-virus program.
    • If you get threatening/harassing e-mail notify Public Safety and Information Technology immediately.
    • Be careful about who has access to your computer. File can be hacked into, bogus e-mails sent and threats made all from your address and you may be held responsible.


    Fire
    Fire safety is a matter of common sense mixed with a little knowledge. Let's first turn to some of the basics.
     

     

    Avoiding Dangers
    Remember that fire takes three things to get going: heat, fuel and oxygen. It is not practical to deprive your room of oxygen, and no one is saying you should go without heat, but you can keep the heat away from the fuel. Be aware of the heat sources in your room (remember light bulbs and electrical outlets are heat sources) and keep drapes, bedspreads, and other flammables clear of them.

    Try not to keep highly flammable items such as lighter fluid or cleaning solvents in your room. If you do, keep them away from the heat sources and outlets. Remember that paper is flammable. It is hard to avoid accumulating it in a university environment, so you need to be careful where you keep it.

    Most residence hall fires are started by unattended candles, faulty electrical appliances or careless smoking. Lit candles are prohibited in rooms by residence hall regulations and smoking is not allowed in any university buildings. Keep all combustibles away from sources of heat. Appliances are another matter.
     

       

    Electrical Appliances
    Students are now bringing many more electrical appliances with them. The buildings you live in were built with the wiring codes in effect at the time of construction. At that time, no one imagined that almost every student would have a TV, stereo, Nintendo, electric clock radio, hair dryer, hot rollers, and on and on. You should minimize your use of extension cords and multiple plugs to accommodate all these items. Outlet multipliers do not increase the power a circuit can handle, the only increase the demand on that circuit and that can be unsafe. If you must use them, use ones with built-in circuit breakers. Due to the fire hazard the present, torchiere style lamps are not permitted.
     

       

    Fire Alarm System
    A complete smoke alarm system has been installed in every residence hall. This system was integrated with the already existing conventional pull-box fire alarm system. There is a smoke alarm in every room, utility closet, hallway, bathroom, lounge and storage area. It is really three systems in one. If one of the pull-box alarms is activated, an alarm sounds throughout the building. One of the smoke alarms in public or storage areas activation sounds an alarm at the control panel at the lobby desk and throughout the building. If the detector in a student's room is activated, an alarm sounds at the control panel and in the RHD's apartment. In any case, the RHD or an RA would then investigate the problem. All three of these alarm systems can be activated separately and if the smoke alarm system malfunctions, the normal pull-box alarms will still work and vice-versa.
     

       

    In Case of Fire
    If there is a fire, the procedure is simple: GET OUT OF THE BUILDING. On the way, if the fire alarm is not going off, activate the alarm system if you can and tell other students, an RA and/or RHD if you have time. If the fire alarm system goes off at any time, GET OUT. You have no way of knowing if it is a false alarm or not. People envision huge clouds of thick black smoke, and this may be true in some fires, but more commonly, people are asleep when the fumes and gases released from a just-beginning fire sedate them until it is too late. Do not worry about closing windows and such, you may not have time.

    If you think there is fire or smell smoke, tell an RA or RHD. If you see smoke coming out of a room with a closed door, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR! Get help immediately. The staff is trained to handle such emergencies. If you cannot find anyone and you still think there is a fire, pull the alarm. Familiarize yourself with where they are on your floor. Also, familiarize yourself with all the exits, not just the ones you use regularly. In an emergency, they may be blocked and you may need an alternate route out. If in any doubt, sound the alarm and get out. If you cannot get out of your room, jam rugs or towels against the bottom to the door to keep out smoke, stay low where there is more oxygen to breathe and open the bottom of a window and scream or hang a sheet/towel out the window to attract attention and help.

    Assault
    Assault can happen on campus or off. There are steps you can take to avoid it and things you should do if it happens.

    Prevention
    In the residence halls, Capital has taken the measures mentioned in the section on theft to deny access to the buildings by people who could cause you bodily harm.

    In a bigger town or city, there are places you can go safely at certain times and there are places you should not go at certain times. There are also places it would be better to not visit at all. While Capital is in a nice suburban area that may make you feel like you are in a small town, in reality it is part of a big city, and you need to act accordingly.

    One rule that is good to follow at all times is to not go out alone at night. That means no late night walks to clear your head after studying for a test. If you have to walk a good distance from your car to your residence hall or the other way around late at night, students are encouraged to call ahead for Public Safety officers to meet and escort you. At home you might have been able to walk to the store late at night or to a fast food restaurant if you were hungry. You should not do that here, not even in a group. During the day Bexley and Columbus are generally safe, but at night you must exhibit proper caution.

    There are some things that could be "triggers" to assaults. Certain behaviors and speech patterns, even articles of clothing, can bring attention to you in a way you would rather not have. Be aware of where you are and who is around you. For example, do not blindly walk out into a dark parking lot oblivious to your surroundings. Just showing that you are aware of what is going on around you may discourage unwanted attention.

    If you are assaulted

    If, despite all this, you find yourself the victim of an assault on campus, call the Department of Public Safety immediately. Tell an RA or RHD. Assistance will be made available to you. Should the incident occur off campus, notify the local police. When you return to campus, notify the Department of Public Safety so that they can respond appropriately if they receive any requests for information. You should not clean yourself up before you first contact the authorities, as evidence comes in many forms and they may need to physically see how you look to document such evidence. You should make sure you get examined by a physician at the earliest opportunity. Injuries take many forms. Let a doctor decide how bad you are. If you are under 18 years of age, the Residence Life staff will notify your parents or guardian; if you are over 18, we strongly urge that you do so as soon as possible.

    Rape
    Rape is assault. It is sexual only in the method used in the assault. As better information is compiled and more rapes are reported, a clearer picture is forming of this vastly misunderstood crime. No longer should it be seen as something that happens when you are dragged into an alley by a deranged stranger. A majority of rapes happen in the victim's own home, and most victims of rape know their assailant before the crime. It is not caused by provocative dress or behavior. It is a crime of violence and power and, unfortunately, most rapes go unreported.

    Avoidance
    The same precautions that you would use to avoid assault, you would use to avoid rape. In addition, here are some more specific ideas to use.
     

    • After dark, travel in groups and only in well-lit areas. Ask Public Safety for an escort to and from your car or campus buildings if you are alone late at night.
    • Avoid strangers. If you see someone approaching or think you are being followed, cross the street. If they do the same, start thinking of ways to reach safety, such as public or well-lit places.
    • Walk with confidence and assurance. Rapists like to look for easy victims and would rather avoid too much of a struggle.
    • Carry a flashlight so that you do not have to fumble for your keys. Have them ready and out when you get to your car or door so that you can enter quickly.
    • Before you get into or even open the door to your car, use your flashlight and look into the front and rear seats.
    • Pay attention to what is going on around you. Be aware of other people in your area.
    • Never hitchhike or accept rides from strangers or people you have just met.
    • Carry a police whistle. If you feel threatened, blow it hard. You may not summon any police, but you will draw attention to yourself, which is just what a rapist does not want.
    • Do not stop to help a stranded motorist. The best thing you can do is stop at the nearest phone and summon the police to the scene. If you are stranded and someone stops to help you, do not get out of your car or open the window. Ask them to send help from the next phone.
    • Take a self-defense course offered by the YWCA or other community agency.


    Date Rape
    The catch phrase "date rape" is currently be used to describe forced sex in a dating environment, but it is still rape. After analyzing the perpetrators of date rape, some common traits have been identified. Hostility toward women, wrong or idealistic ideas about women and a domineering personality have all described date rapists. If you can see these traits in a person, you may want to exercise some judgment about going out with that person. There are a few things that you can do to try to avoid date rape.
     

    • Express what you want out of a date clearly before you get into a sexual situation, as hints and assumptions can be misinterpreted.
    • Try to stay in a group or public place.
    • If you do not know your date well, have your own transportation so you do not have to depend on them for a ride home.
    • Avoid alcohol and drugs as they inhibit clear thought and normal emotional control.
    • Even when you feel comfortable or safe, you always have the right to say "no". Treat all unwanted advances firmly and leave no doubt about your wishes.
    • As much as possible, remain in control of the situation.

    All this is not meant to make you afraid to date, but as you get to know someone, it is wise to be cautious.

    What to do if it happens

    If despite all your precautions, you are attacked, there are still things you can do.
     

    • Keep a level head and do not panic. If you lose control of yourself, you lose control of the situation and this is what the rapist wants. Even if you are not in control, if you are at least contesting control, you may be better off.
    • Your first choice should be escape. Fighting back is second.
    • You may have heard that you should scream. This is true, but it must be a forceful, loud yell from the diaphragm. It carries better and will attract more attention and may startle you assailant.
    • If you have no other choice but to physically resist, it may be better than pleading, begging or crying, as these are just what the rapist wants. It puts him in a position of power, which is what rape is all about. You must make the judgment call as to whether to resist or not and to what degree. No one can tell you what to do any better than your instincts at that moment.
    • Pay attention to as many details as you can. Look your assailant in the eyes and get the best possible description you can as to weight, age, height and clothing.
    • Make as many mental notes as you can about your surroundings. Try to establish the time with something at the site.
    • If you can leave something behind such as jewelry, buttons or a hair comb. Let the police find them to establish that you were at that place at the time you claim.
    • If an automobile is involved, get the make, model, year and license number if possible.
    • Try to re-establish control as soon as you can after the incident. You will need to substantiate your story and anything you can do to accomplish that will be helpful.
    • Seek assistance immediately. Do not clean yourself up. Present yourself as you are. The police will need to collect evidence and may need to see how you look. On campus you can turn to the RAs and RHDs. Do not worry that anyone else will find out. Your confidence will be respected and only those university officials directly involved will be notified. You will be given options as to where to go and what to do such as medical attention or rape crisis centers and any emotional support that may be necessary.
    • The effect of rape may take hours, days or even years to appear. Do not assume you are OK, seek counseling. The Residence Life staff can offer you many alternatives, and using them will enable you to deal with this trauma more effectively.


    Personal Injury
    This can happen anywhere at anytime, at home or in the residence hall. If for some reason you do get hurt, there are some things you can and should do.
    What You Should Do

    If you are injured, you should seek medical assistance. Do not try to make medical judgment yourself, let a professional do it. Notify an RA, RHD or the Department of Public Safety. They can help get you to the proper resources, such as Campus Health Services or a hospital emergency room. If your injury impairs your mobility, stay where you are and do not try to get around. Hobbling on a sprained ankle, for instance can add greatly to the injury. Have a friend contact a staff member or Public Safety. If you are gravely injured, you or a friend can call 911 and the Columbus Rescue Squad will respond. In residence halls remember you must dial "9" first (9-911).

    Whatever the case may be, even at some later point, if you are injured on campus you should notify the Department of Public Safety and Campus Health Services, if not for treatment, for possible insurance purposes. In the residence halls, add your RA or RHD to the "must notify list" even if it is after the fact.

    Insurance
    The quest of reimbursement if you are injured robbed or have property damaged can be divided into two areas: personal and property loss. The university assumes not liability for personal property brought on campus. That means, for example if you are robbed, you will not be reimbursed for any loss. To avoid this sort of loss, you should make sure that your personal belongings are insured.

    Insuring Your Belongings
    Your belongings can be insured in a number of ways, but the most common is to see if they are covered under your parents' home owner's insurance. Sometimes, if they are not, the may be able to be covered by adding what is know as a "rider" to the policy for an additional fee. If this is not possible, you can contact an insurance company to purchase your own renter's insurance.

    Capital, although it has no connection with and does not endorse the company, also makes available information about insurance specifically for university students' possessions. The bottom line is, it is your responsibility to make sure your belongings are covered before the fact, not afterward.
    Your Personal Insurance

    Personal injury is another matter. The university requires students to purchase the university's student accident and sickness insurance. The important thing to know about this policy is that is a supplemental policy. In other words, it will only start paying benefits after all your other insurers have paid. Most students are covered under their parents' policies, but this should be checked beforehand and you should know the company, the policy number and the type of coverage. The Finance Office has pamphlets describing what is covered by the Capital student insurance.

    Summary

    Capital has taken many steps aimed at providing a safe environment for learning. You play a larger part in this. The old adage says that "two heads are better than one." In the case of security, many heads and sets of eyes and hands are better than one. Your actions or inactions can reinforce or negate these provisions for safety and security.

    As has been stated using common sense and the knowledge that you have already accumulated can avoid or prevent may situations that could cause you or others problems. Add to that the information that has been included in this booklet and you will be able to maximize the positive aspects of your experience at Capital.

    Personal and financial security are matters of realizing in what environment you are operating, and then taking all the prudent precautions you can. You cannot avoid all problems, but if you make the appropriate pro-active arrangements, you can minimize their impact on your life.