Staying safe: Tips to keep on your radar as you begin your college life

Christina Bucciere

It’s your first semester at college, and chances are it’s the first time you’ve been away from home for an extended period of time. You want to hang out with friends, go to parties and explore the new world of opportunities available to you. But there are safety risks that go along with being on your own. Safety on campus involves much more than remembering to dial 911 in case of an emergency. Here are some of the resources Kent State offers to help ensure students stay safe.


Police department:

• Emergencies: 911

• Non-emergency line: 330-672-2212

• Services and Information: 330-672-3070

Off-campus resources:

• Kent City Police: 330-673-7732

• Emergency Room: 330-297-2850

• Robinson Memorial Hospital: 330-297-3912

• Akron YWCA Rape Crisis Center: 330-253-6131

• Portage County Victim/Witness Assistance Program: 800-201-3857


• KSU SART (Sexual Assault Response Team): 330-672-8016

• KSU Nurse Line (24/7): 330-672-2326

• RAINN (National Sexual Assault and Abuse Hotline): 1-800-656-4673

• The Hotline (National Domestic Violence Hotline): 1-800-799-7233

Residence safety services

• Office: 330-672-7005

• Escort Service: 330-672-7004

• New Front/Centennial Area Desk: 330-672-3610

• Quad Area Desk: 330-672-3600

• Tri-Towers Area Desk: 330-672-3244

•Twin/Eastway Area Desk: 330-672-3915

Fire safety

The Fire Prevention Department, a division of Risk Management Services, tests and maintains all life safety systems and trains resident advisers to know the correct escape routes in case of a fire.

“The most important thing for students to do is be aware of and listen to the alarm message and follow the instructions,” said Edward Moisio, fire safety coordinator of Fire Safety Services.

The Kent Fire Department responds to fire alarms but does not respond to every single occurrence, Moisio said. The low-risk buildings, such as the residence halls, are protected with sprinkler systems and the alarms alert fire safety if they need to investigate further.

Moisio said two different fire alarms can sound in case of emergency: one voice telling students to leave the building ­— and another telling students to seek shelter.

The most common cause of a fire alarm sounding is from cooking appliances. Out of the 212 fire alarms that went off last school year, only two fires actually occurred, Moisio said.

Moisio said the best way for students to prevent fires is to be aware of how fast their food is cooking, use power-surge protectors for all cords and not to use candles or smoke in dorm rooms.

The Kent Fire Department will, however, respond to all fire alarms that go off in high-risk buildings such as the library, chemistry department and heating plant, Moisio said.

On campus

Students should know that when they call 911, their call will go to the Kent State Police Department; If they are off campus, their call will go to the Kent City Police, said Michquel Penn, community resource officer of the Kent State Police Department.

Students can also send crime tips anonymously through the dispatch center or the ThreatLine found on the campus website.

Penn said one of the most frequent crimes that occurs on campus is petty theft.

“I see occurrences where people gather in large groups like the Hub in the Student Center when students leave things on the tables to get in line,” Penn said. “Or at the library when people leave their things on their desk when they go to the restroom to save their spot and when they get back, their stuff is gone.”

Penn said to be aware of your surroundings to keep your valuable safe and make sure to keep your dorm room locked when you are out of the room.

“Leaving your door open is a social thing,” Penn said. “That’s great for when you’re in your room, but when you leave — even if it’s just to go down the hall to the restroom — lock your door. We see a lot of theft on campus from people who aren’t keeping their valuables protected.”

Penn said crime happens on campus often because students are “too trusting” of new people, especially when meeting other students.

“You always hear about the buddy system and walking in groups, but I think sometimes people forget in using the buddy system that there’s another part to that,” Penn said. “You guys walk to a party together, but make sure you’re all coming back together. Don’t leave your friends behind and pay attention to your surroundings.”

Another type of crime that can occur in a college setting, in relation to meeting new people, is sexual assault, Penn said.

“Sexual assault is actually one of the crimes we have low-reported numbers for, but it’s one of the crimes we know still exists, and there are a lot more occurrences than are actually being reported to us,” Penn said.

SART, the Sexual Assault Response Team, is “a great way for students to feel comfortable talking to someone about an incident who knows what that’s like,” Penn said.

Another campus resource that can help students stay safe is the blue-light emergency phone system. These phone towers, located all across campus, allow students to push a button that will connect them directly to the Kent State dispatch center in case of emergency.

Flash ALERTS, an emergency text notification system, notifies students of any campus-related critical news or information. Students can insert up to three cell phone numbers on the KSUPD website to receive text messages about campus-wide emergencies, extreme weather situations and campus closings.

Kent State Police also offer A.L.I.C.E. training workshops for students throughout the year. A.L.I.C.E. stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate and aims to prepare students and faculty for the possibility of an active gunman on campus. Students can sign up for the 90-minute session, which is held in the Student Center on weekdays, through the Student Success Center website.

“Everything we teach in the workshop is common sense, but it’s not something you would necessarily think about if you are unprepared,” Penn said.

In the dorms

Residence Safety Services offers unique safety measures to keep students safe while living in the residence halls.

Safety Services students act as security aides who patrol residence halls to monitor hall safety and security, control noise levels and keep watch on residents, said Carlos Mojica, security supervisor of Residence Services. Two to three security aides patrol each residence hall every night.

Safety Services also offers a free escort service that runs from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. every night that students can use to get safely from place to place within campus limits, Mojica said.

Residence hall doors are secured 24/7 and require key card access, Mojica said. Residents are allowed to have visitors, but they must be escorted when inside the dormitories. Visitation policies differ among resident halls, and some halls limit the length of a non-resident guest’s stay.

For bike owners, Residence Safety Services also offers a bike registration service, which helps to recover stolen bikes by attaching a sticker with a specific code to the bike to provide a way to verify the ownership of recovered bikes. Safety Services also offers a free engraving service for students’ other valuables.

Contact Christina Bucciere at [email protected].