Campus Safety at HBCUs: A Beacon of Hope and Resilience Amidst Challenges

Last Updated on August 31, 2023

4 Ways for HBCU Students to Stay Safe While at College

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) aren't just institutions; they're vibrant communities brimming with culture, traditions, and legacy. As you navigate your way through college, your safety and well-being should never be a secondary concern.

Let's dive into how to ensure campus safety while embracing the full HBCU experience. 

The Importance of Campus Safety: A Stark Reminder

Recently, a tragic incident in Jacksonville, Florida, brought to the forefront the security challenges faced by HBCUs. Edward Waters University (EWU) emerged as the initial target of a racially motivated attacker. Alert students noticed him preparing on campus, and thanks to the vigilance of Lt. Antonio Bailey, the individual was deterred and fled. Tragically, he later committed a violent act at a nearby Dollar General store. Dr. A. Zachary Faison, Jr., EWU's President, is of the view that the institution, a beacon of Black excellence, was chosen intentionally. This alarming event highlights the imperative for strengthened campus safety protocols at all HBCUs.

Campus Officers and Their Role

The office of campus safety is pivotal. It's not just about having campus safety officers patrolling; it's about the entire ecosystem they create. Post the 9/11 era, many campuses enhanced security, requiring IDs to access facilities. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Education extended over $200,000 to four Black colleges, one being Howard University, to further boost security measures.

What can we, as students, learn from this?

Always carry your ID.

  • Proof of Identity: An ID proves that you belong on campus and allows access to campus facilities such as libraries, labs, and recreational centers.
  • Emergencies: In case of an accident or medical emergency, having an ID helps emergency responders identify you and contact your family or guardians.
  • Discounts and Perks: Many local businesses offer discounts to students. Having your ID on hand can help you avail these discounts.

If something seems off, notify the safety on campus authorities immediately.

  • Trust Your Instincts: Often, our gut feelings can sense danger before we're consciously aware of it. If something feels off, it's better to be safe and report it.
  • Quick Action is Crucial: Reporting suspicious activity immediately can prevent potential incidents and helps authorities to act swiftly.
  • You're Not Overreacting: It's essential to understand that campus security officers are there to assist and would rather inspect a situation that turns out to be harmless than miss a genuine threat.

Utilize resources provided, be it for wellness checks or safety training.

  • Wellness Checks: Regular wellness checks can ensure you're in optimal health, both mentally and physically. They can help in early detection of issues, which might otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Safety Training: Participating in safety training sessions can equip you with essential skills, from basic first-aid to self-defense techniques.
  • Build a Support Network: Leveraging these resources helps you connect with professionals on campus who can offer support, advice, and resources in times of need.
  • Stay Updated: Regularly check the school's website or bulletin boards to be aware of any new resources or programs being introduced.

    Navigating the HBCU Cultural Extravaganza Safely

    HBCU homecomings? They're legendary! But with great celebrations come greater responsibilities. Here are some bullet-proof tips:

    • Celebrate responsibly. If you're part of a parade or nighttime event, always stay in groups.
    • The buddy system isn't just a cliché. It's a college safety essential.

    Greek life pledges are incredible opportunities to form lifelong bonds. But it's vital to pledge with integrity. Stay clear of any hazing red flags. Remember, genuine brotherhood or sisterhood never compromises safety.

    Your Role in Ensuring Safety on and off Campus

    Every student plays a role in ensuring safety, both on and off campus. A simple act, like alerting an officer when something seems out of place, can make a huge difference.

    Did you know that students who are well-informed about their surroundings and who regularly communicate with the office of campus safety, often feel more secure? Be that student!

    When off-campus, remember:

    • Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood.
    • Lock your doors and be cautious about sharing personal routines with new acquaintances.

    Embracing Digital Safety

    Today's world isn't just about physical safety. The digital realm poses its own unique threats. From cyberbullying to privacy invasions, dangers often lurk behind screens. Here's how you can navigate the digital space safely:

    • Maintain a Positive Digital Footprint:
      • Regularly Google your name to monitor your online presence.
      • Delete or untag unflattering or inappropriate content.
      • Share achievements or positive activities to create a favorable image.
    • Limit Personal Information:
      • Avoid posting sensitive data like home addresses, phone numbers, and schedules.
      • Use a pseudonym or a nickname on public forums.
    • Use Strong Passwords:
      • Combine letters, numbers, and symbols.
      • Avoid easily guessed passwords like “password123” or birth dates.
      • Regularly update passwords and avoid using the same one across multiple platforms.
    • Enhance Privacy Settings:
      • Regularly review and adjust the privacy settings on social media and other online platforms.
      • Limit the audience for your posts to friends or connections.
    • Be Cautious with Downloads:
      • Only download apps or files from trusted sources.
      • Regularly update software to benefit from the latest security patches.
    • Avoid Clicking on Suspicious Links:
      • These might be phishing attempts or malware installers.
      • If unsure about a link, verify its legitimacy by searching online or asking the sender.
    • Utilize Safety Apps:
      • Apps like Circle of 6 or bSafe can alert trusted contacts if you're in a dangerous situation.
      • Some apps also share your live location, acting as a safeguard when traveling alone.

    Navigating the digital world safely requires both caution and awareness. By following these tips and using technology wisely, you can enhance both your digital and physical safety. 

    Final Thoughts on HBCU Safety

    Ensuring safety in college doesn't mean living in fear. It's about being smart, vigilant, and proactive. So, as you forge ahead, creating memories and laying the groundwork for a bright future, remember that your safety is paramount. Embrace the rich HBCU traditions, but always with an eye on safety. Together, let's make our campuses safer and our experiences unforgettable.

    FAQs on HBCU Campus Safety

    What makes a college campus safe? 

    A safe college campus has many different safety and security measures. Among these are:

    CCTV cameras are effective forms of surveillance.

    Campus security staff who are well-trained and work well with local law enforcement.

    Clear emergency procedures and regular drills to help students learn how to evacuate and find a safe place.

    The campus has good lighting, especially in the common areas. Access to campus buildings is limited, and ID systems are often used.

    Proactive steps like teaching people about personal safety, consent, and how to solve conflicts.What can I do to stay safe on campus?

    What can I do to stay safe on campus?

    Staying safe on campus mostly depends on how alert you are and how well you use the resources you have:

    Tell someone where you're going, especially if you're going to be out late.

    Use campus escort services or move around the campus at night in groups.

    Stay aware of your surroundings and don't use headphones or spend too much time on your phone in areas with few people.

    Tell campus security right away about anything that seems strange.

    Get to know the campus's safety zones and emergency exits.

    What are college students' perceptions about campus safety?

    tudents' perceptions vary widely based on personal experiences, campus location, and ongoing events. However, recent threats, especially those targeted at HBCUs, have heightened concerns. While many students feel secure due to the measures universities have in place, there's always an undercurrent of anxiety given the realities of the modern world. Open dialogue, student feedback sessions, and transparent communication from the university can play a pivotal role in shaping these perceptions.

    How do you stay safe on and off campus?

    Safety both on and off campus can be achieved by:

    On-campus: Making use of campus resources like security escort services.

    Avoiding isolated areas, especially after dark.
    Reporting malfunctioning lights or other potential safety hazards.

    Off-campus: Being aware of the local neighborhoods' safety dynamics. Locking your residence securely.

    Not sharing personal details or routines with strangers.
    Traveling in well-lit areas and, when possible, with a group, especially during nighttime.

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