Going off to college is an exciting time. There are dorm rooms, beautiful campus buildings, and hundreds of new people to meet. You get to spread your wings and decorate your new space. You get to dive into new subjects and find your passion. The world has become your oyster while you explore who you are and go through a beautiful metamorphosis.
Although it is a fantastic journey and you may feel on top of the world, no one is invincible when it comes to assault. Assault on college campuses is a prevalent reality. Statistics show that 11.2% of college students, both undergraduate and graduate, experience sexual assault. For the subgroup of undergraduate students, 23.1% of females and 5.4% of males get assaulted. For graduate students, 8.8% of females and 2.2% of males become victims. The most prevalent means of these attacks are through physical force, violence, or incapacitation. Additionally, 4.2% of students experience stalking once entering college.
No one wants to think that it could happen to them. Don’t allow these statistics to terrify you or take away from your exciting college experience. Instead, the best thing you can do for yourself is preparing for the possibility. Assault is never the fault of the victim, but ensuring your safety and at least having the option of using self-defense devices aids in putting your mind at ease. So what are self-defense options, and what role does campus security play in determining your options?
Some of the most common self-defense options include pepper spray, stun guns, pocket knives, airsoft guns, firearms, or sharp knuckle keychains. Although these can be great tools for warding off an attacker, consulting with campus security is imperative. This discussion ensures that you are staying safe while eliminating the risk of getting faulted for having weapons on campus. Some campuses have strict rules about what items are allowed on campus, or what specification those items must meet. Brandishing these weapons can carry significant repercussions, such as jail time or hefty fines.
For example, many campuses allow pepper spray, but only if it is 2.5 ounces or less and contains a warning label. Other colleges prohibit pepper spray entirely. Schools that approve of pocket knives require it to have a blade that is 2.5 inches or shorter, not open automatically, and not have more than one sharp edge. Pocket knives that usually break these rules include belt buckle knives, dirk daggers, can swords, pen knives, lipstick knives, switchblades, and butterfly knives. Airsoft guns may seem like a good idea to scare off an attacker. Still, they often look identical to real firearms and therefore are usually prohibited.
Some campuses are moving towards allowing stun guns, but many still do not allow them. Most schools that enable stun guns have boundaries regarding where they can possess and carry them.
A majority of schools prohibit firearms on campus. Colleges that do allow handguns require certification and can impose rules regarding if it must be concealed carry or if they enable open carry. Some schools have specifications about which types of guns are permissible. Firearms are deadly weapons that should always be handled with care to prevent tragic accidental injuries or fatalities.
Generally, metal knuckle keychains are prohibited. In some instances, knuckle keychains made of plastic are an available option. Unfortunately, some states consider any form of self-defense knuckle keychains illegal, no matter which material they are.
So Why Should You Consult with Campus Security?
1. Campus security can inform you of which self-defense items are permissible. Security staff is familiar with state laws and campus laws. If any certifications are required or if specifications apply, staff can inform you beforehand so that you can obtain acceptable self-defense devices. Furthermore, the officers can explain what the legal ramifications are for breaking these rules. Campus security has your best interest in mind, as well as the best interest of the rest of the students who risk getting hurt by irresponsible weapon use. Being informed of your options and restrictions ultimately benefits both you and your fellow students.
2. Once you understand what items are permissible, bringing your devices to campus security to double-check that they meet specifications is an excellent idea. Sizes of the weapons, the strength of tasers, and the labels and chemicals in pepper spray should always be verified. If your gun requires any licensing or registration, security can verify that your documents are valid.
3. Proper use of your self-defense devices is crucial. If you have never used the item you purchased, there is no harm in having the equipment explained to you or having a demonstration of how it works. Things such as knives, tasers, or handguns should always be stored safely, handled with care, and kept away from other people. Having a security officer demonstrate the safe storage and handling is still ideal. Security staff can also inform you of the risks concerning improper use of these potentially dangerous items. You should never play with your devices, jokingly brandish them, or otherwise use them for reasons aside from self-defense.
4. For campuses that prohibit possession of any weapons or self-defense devices, security staff can inform you of alternative options. Some apps offer the ability for you to alert a trusted friend or family member when you are leaving one location. When you reach your destination, you can inform your chosen contact that you arrived safely. GPS tracks your entire trip and alerts your contact or authorities if you do not reach your destination. An additional option is keychains that allow you to press a button. This button usually sends out a message to the companies that provide these devices, which then gets routed to the authorities. Other handheld or keychain devices can emit loud noises to scare off your assailant.
5. Many campuses offer self-defense classes. These courses teach you useful tactics for fending off your attacker if you are otherwise without any approved self-defense devices. This training generally includes physical maneuvers you can perform to immobilize your assailant or to break free from their hold. You also learn tips on how to identify a potential attacker, stay safe on campus, and how to go about reporting an attack. Even if you have options for approved self-defense devices, you can benefit from this additional training nonetheless.
Self-defense is undoubtedly critical on college campuses. Understanding your device and weapon options, how to handle them, and what alternative options are available is crucial. In a time where campus assaults are on the rise, your campus security and your devices are invaluable. In this way, you ensure your physical safety, the safety of your fellow students and teachers, and your legal standpoint.