Don’t Forget to Ask This Question: How Safe Is Your Campus?


Many juniors have intensified their college search; hoping to find a “good fit/match” for their undergraduate education. Even sophomores and freshmen are engaged in the process, rightfully so, with plans to investigate options during their vacation trips or while participating in a summer enrichment program.

During their preparation with numerous resources, particularly recommended questions, their enthusiasm and naïve experience might prevent them from investigating more closely some critical areas of college life.  As a school counselor, I remember how oblivious many teens were to the potential dangers at weekend parties; particularly, the events without chaperones.  The “nothing bad will happen to me” attitude was rather prevalent among all intellectual levels.

Now, let’s fast forward to a college search.  I’ve observed in both a school setting and privately, for thirty-two years, that campus security is not a priority area of concern for most college-bound students; more for some parents, though.  But in all fairness to high school students, it was not for me, either, when I developed my list in 1967.  I have interviewed counseling colleagues in different social and geographic environments to determine if students in high-risk areas might be more concerned about the issue; however, the conclusion is not overwhelming positive.

For years, I’ve shared my list of Goode Questions to Ask College Admissions Counselors to my constituents.

Some questions regarding campus security should include:

  • Do students feel safe on campus?  What security measures are used (blue lights, escort service, call boxes)?
  • How secure are the dorms? What identification is required to enter?
  • Is there an alcohol problem, and, if so, how is the college handling it?  What is the incidence of binge drinking?
  • Are the students sensitive to and respectful of individual differences?
  • How is the diversity climate on campus?
  • What is the campus and neighboring community/city/town relationship?
  • How accessible is the campus to people who are not students/faculty-staff/other employees?  Is there is a checkpoint for unauthorized campus visitors?
  • Does your college have the reputation of being a “partying school”?
  • How attentively does the campus administration respond to violation reports and disciplinary action?

According to the May 2, 2014 Washington Post article, “Colleges scrutinized on sex assault cases,” the U.S. Education Department released a list of 55 colleges with open “sexual violence investigations.”  The colleges under review have possibly mishandled Title IX violations relative to sexual violence and harassment complaints.  Reports from other higher education sources have included more colleges under review.

Institutions of all selective levels are represented:  Ivies, prestigious private schools, and public universities.  They hail from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and includes the District of Columbia.


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