The beginning of Sept. may bring to mind college football and returning to classes, but it also marks the start of National Campus Safety Awareness Month. Both returning and new students should be aware of precautions they can take to keep themselves safe, as well as procedures for emergency situations.
The University Police Department's web site provides safety tips for a number of situations. There are also pages addressing sexual assault awareness and drug and alcohol abuse. The website also contains instructions on what to do in the case of various types of emergencies.
The site suggests walking in groups when possible. When it is not possible to travel in groups, students should be aware of their surroundings and avoid dimly lit and unpopulated areas. Headphones can reduce the ability to notice noises, people and cars in the area. If a student feels unsafe at any time on campus, they can contact campus police to provide an escort to another location on campus.
Traveling safety on campus also means following the rules.
"A pedestrian has the right of way in a crosswalk, not 20 feet from the crosswalk," says Chief Shawn Giddy.
Students who use bicycles for transportation on campus should also be aware of the rules of the road. "The same rules that apply for cars, apply for a bicycle," explains Giddy.
Parking zones on campus also help decrease the number of cars driving to and from classes. "With the reduced number of cars, that reduces the likelihood of an accident," says Sergeant Robert Schafer.
The most common crime on campus is theft. The majority of these thefts are "crimes of opportunity". Giddy advises students, "When you leave your room, lock your door. When you leave your car, lock your door.
It is also important to keep serial numbers of electronics and mark your books so that they can be retrieved if they are stolen.
If someone on campus is physically attacked, an emergency whistle may attract help. If the attackers take an item such as a bag, do not fight back.
It is important for students to keep an eye out for suspicious activity as well, such as hearing the sound of gunshots or breaking glass, seeing someone breaking into a building or carrying a weapon, or loitering around cars and buildings. In any case of suspicious activity, keep a safe distance and contact campus police.
The safety of the campus is determined by students' actions. "[The students] attend JSU, so this is their community and it's only as good as they make it, and it's only as safe as they make it," says Giddy.
Anyone aware of a crime committed should contact campus police as soon as possible. Keep campus police's number-256-782-5050-on hand. There are also eight red emergency call stations located on campus that require only the press of a button.
Last year's crime and fire safety report are also available for download on JSU's website.
"On Oct. 1 we will be releasing our annual crime and fire safety report," says Schaffer. The University Police Department (UPD) website also offers tips for specific emergency situations.
If there is a tornado warning, sirens will sound to alert anyone on campus. It is important in severe weather to stay in a secure area such as Leone Cole Auditorium or the basements of any of the residence halls.
In the case of a fire, leave the area immediately and alert others. Do not use elevators or attempt to gather personal items. If possible, grab keys and necessary medications, but do not risk injury to get them. If trained, administer first aid. Remain with the person until help arrives.
JSU offers an emergency alert system. In case of a campus-wide emergency, it will notify anyone signed up via text, e-mail or phone call. Instructions to sign up are available on JSU's website.