A Freshman’s Guide to Campus Safety
Welcome to USC, the start of a new chapter, your next four years, your supposed gateway to professional adulthood, and the first time many of you will be living alone. Now it’s up to you to take care of yourself. Here is a quick list of frequently asked questions related to security and hopefully appropriate answers.
Is the area around campus really that bad?
There’s a stereotype that the University Park campus is smack in the middle of one of the more “sketchy” parts of Los Angeles, but according to David Carlisle, acting head of the Department of Public Safety, that’s not maybe not quite true.
“I think it’s a safe place if students take reasonable precautions,” Carlisle said. “USC still suffers from an outdated image of being in a dangerous area of Los Angeles, but the community has changed over the past few decades. And so, I think it’s a safe place to live, work, go to school, if you take reasonable precautions that would apply in any major city.
Carlisle, a former law enforcement officer, noted that the University’s crime statistics compare “quite favorably” to other similar campuses on the West Coast, and annual security reports indicate that it ‘is right.
USC reported a total of 412 cases of theft, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson between 2018 and 2020. UCLA reported 449 cases and UC Berkeley reported 847. Hard to be a Bruin.
Now, none of this is to say that USC is so safe and idyllic that you shouldn’t make smart choices, or that it’s your fault if you fall victim to these crimes, but we can all do choices that put us in safer positions.
How can I stay safe at parties?
Go with a trusted friend. Know your drinking limits. Do not drive home if you are drinking. You know, all the stuff you’ve probably heard if you’ve recently taken a mandatory alcohol training module at University.
“Make smart choices,” Carlisle said. “If a situation doesn’t seem fair, it probably isn’t. Do not drink a drink that you have not opened or prepared yourself, as there have been allegations of drugs being added to drinks.
You also shouldn’t feel pressured to go to parties if that’s not your thing. Not everyone is into this stuff (including myself).
A big question that probably no one (including myself) was asking. Carlisle had an answer, however.
“Now all universities, colleges, amusement parks, shopping complexes have security cameras,” he said. “The difference is that USC DPS has over 300 security cameras that we monitor live 24/7…on and…off campus where our students live.”
So, for example, if a camera operator sees a student walking off campus alone at night, they can give that student a “video escort” to make sure they get home safely, or ask for help. help by radio if needed, all without the student knowing. .
“Kind of like spy movies,” I joked.
“It’s for public safety,” Carlisle countered. “And there’s nothing in there that we’re accessing that isn’t public. For example, people say, “Oh, you’re photographing cars driving down the street. Like anyone else could. “Oh wait, do you have a camera watching this person? Yeah, they’re lonely, we’re uncomfortable [with] where they are, let’s keep an eye on them and make sure they’re okay.
(A later trip to the communications center revealed that, in fact, it looked a bit like the spy movies.)
A few other thoughts
Via Carlisle: don’t walk around on your phone; it will be ripped off. Register your bike with DPS to increase the likelihood that you will recover your bike if stolen.
Via USC Safety: Do not walk around with headphones or while surfing the web. You are more likely to be caught off guard in dangerous situations.
Common sense: Lock your doors. Don’t leave your expensive things out in the open.
Now, to stay safe from…
(1) Upper-class students, who have the potential to make your life easier here: Don’t brag about your accomplishments, your course load, or, for God’s sake, your SAT scores. Your mom might be proud that you got into USC, but literally no one else cares. Like, we’re all here, don’t turn your allies into enemies.
(2) Your roommates, who have the potential to complicate your life here: Take your roommate contract seriously and don’t be afraid to change it if certain things happen during the year.
(3) Yourself: Find ways to be active. Don’t sacrifice personal health for grades. Learn to say no to things.
(4) Debt (at least as much as you can avoid): Don’t buy textbooks at the USC Bookstore if your professors don’t require you to bring a physical copy to class. The internet is full of wonders, including free PDFs of textbooks. Search Library Genesis and save your money.
You have this.