Orienting to BU: Safety Dance

Orienting to BU is a series aiming to help incoming freshman with the sometimes bumpy transition from high school to Boston University.

Welcome to Boston University! This is a great place to go to school. Boston is full of interesting things, and as you start to explore, you’ll find you’re rarely bored, and that you’re surrounded by people who are worth knowing. It’s also a place where this assault happened recently.

And these.

And these armed robberies.

And this bike accident. And this one, too.

Unfortunately, it’s been an eye-opening handful of semesters at BU, with all too many new reasons to feel scared—armed robberies, sexual assaults, and other crimes, not to mention the scarring experience of the Marathon bombings last April. Some even say we have a problem. Many BU students have become used to the sound of multiple-page texts from BUPD—updates, warnings, and advice.

There for you at a moment’s notice | Courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Whpq
There for you at a moment’s notice | Courtesy Wikimedia Commons user Whpq

There has been an incident.

For your personal safety, steer clear of the area.

Exercise extreme caution.

As a freshman, this can’t sound terribly attractive, but please, believe this: Boston is a great place to live, and as long as you’re mindful of your own safety, no student need fear living at BU. Just follow the Quad’s basic tips for personal safety, and go boldly into the night.

1. Don’t go alone

Ever. Seriously, this one isn’t hard, and it could make the difference between a scary walk home and a super fun one. The buddy system is time-tested and mom-approved. Have a friend with you when you go to a party and you’ll not only have more fun, but there will be someone with you who knows where you are, what your sobriety level was when you arrived, what your surroundings entail, and vice versa. Even though during freshman year it’s not for sure that you’ll have met your best friends yet, college is the ideal place to make new friends.

2.  Be equipped

With you at all times should be: your ID, keys, a phone, at least 20 dollars in cash, a paper list of important phone numbers (home, police, roommate), a Charlie Card, and something to defend yourself with. Pepper spray is legal in Massachusetts when sold by a licensed firearms provider, but a Swiss Army Knife or a simple knowledge of human pressure points could make a difference in some situations, even if you don’t use them (you don’t want to). Bonus points if you carry any of the following: condoms, Ibuprofen, BandAids, water.

3. Be aware

Orientation may have given you a pantomime demonstration of how to be safe at parties, but in the end it’s real world experience that will really teach you lessons. Being aware of your physical and emotional state is key. Don’t let fear stop you from trying new things and having fun, but acknowledging when you start to feel weird or uncomfortable and refusing to let peer pressure change your behavior can mean the difference between safe and very, very unsafe.

4. Control your intake

There will be not-sober times while you are here. Enjoy them! But be smart about it, please. The safest option is to bring your own substances (a flask is a foolproof option), but that’s difficult as a freshman. Instead, make your own drinks at parties and never, ever accept anything from a stranger that’s not sealed or that you didn’t watch being made for you. Controlling how much you consume is also vital; here is a chart explaining how alcohol and your body mass interact and an infographic about what constitutes a “drInk.” Also, stay hydrated; filling a Solo cup with water once in a while during the night doesn’t hurt.

5. If something happens, know what to do

Depending on the situation, sometimes it’s best to yield. If someone threatens you with violence for your belongings, give them up. They’re not worth you getting hurt. But if you can definitely get out safely, run. Report what happened to the BUPD as soon as you can and get safe.

6. Know your resources

If BU has gotten one thing right in the face of a year of unfortunate events, it’s making resources available to students. Psychiatric counseling, self-defense training, and substance education are all well-represented in the catalog of programs that BU offers, and they’re as anonymous as you want them to be.

7. Don’t let fear rule your experience

Boston is way too cool to let fear hold you back (check out all the cool stuff!). After all, danger is a part of city life, and BU is a city school through and through. The best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge and proceed boldly into the world with an open mind and a smile.

About Sharon Weissburg

Sharon Weissburg (CAS 2015) hails from the lovely city of Providence, Rhode Island and loves fashion, literature, music, and art. She's a pretty big fan of pretzels dipped in marshmallow fluff, too.

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