After a long night of studying in the James A. Cannavino Library for a test you have the next day, you start your walk back to your off-campus house. As you are walking to your house, a stranger suddenly approaches you. Before you know it, the stranger is demanding your wallet and all of your belongings. It is then that you suddenly realize that you’re being robbed.
Marist College’s security staff and Director of Security John Gildard emphasize that “personal safety needs to be a personal commitment.” And although it is possible that anyone at any time could be the potential victim of a crime, such as a robbery, there are things that you can do to lessen the chances of that victim being you. What Marist Security wants students to keep in mind is that even in a community the size of Marist, there are still violations of the law. And, although the Marist campus “is a relatively safe environment, the possibility of a major crime occurring does exist” and students should “think safety at all times.” The following tips applicable to your safety on campus as well as off.
1. Call a cab, if possible.
Marist College has a relationship with the various transportation services available in the town and city of Poughkeepsie that are available to students who are planning to travel to an off campus location. If you choose to take a cab to your destination, Marist Security suggests that students should do the following: look for taxicab drivers that have been licensed by both the Town and the City of Poughkeepsie. Make sure that the inside of your cab has a plastic holder affixed to the dashboard, in plain view, that shows the taxicab driver’s license, photograph and schedule of fares and look to see that each passenger has his/her own seat and a seat belt.
2. Utilize SNAP, if available.
SNAP stands for Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol. SNAP is a service that is provided by Marist’s Office of Safety and Security and is “designed to provide the Marist Community with a safe means to travel around the campus at night”. But, keep in mind that the SNAP escorts are only available five nights a week, beginning Sunday Night into Friday morning, and are not available on Friday or Saturday nights.
3. Familiarize yourself with the surrounding area.
If you can’t afford a cab and SNAP is not an option, educate yourself on the immediate area. Know what street you are on and the route you are intending to take. Educate yourself on what streets are the safer ones to travel and stick to well-lit and well-populated areas. Avoid any dangerous parts of the town or city.
4. Dress to discourage unwanted attention.
Be considerate of how you are dressed if you plan on walking to the bar on a Friday night. If you’re not a local, and it’s obvious to someone who is, you’re more likely to be targeted. If you plan on walking anywhere off campus don’t wear anything too flashy and expensive such as jewelry or a watch. Also, try to not carry a large purse, backpack or laptop case. Anything that could possibly contain valuables makes you more of a desirable target.
5. Walk with a sense of purpose.
If you are unable to get a cab or SNAP is unavailable and you have to walk to your location, make sure you are doing it with a sense of purpose. Individuals who seem to be aimlessly wandering are more likely to be a target than someone who looks like they know where they are going and what they are doing, even if they don’t.
6. Stay alert.
Pay attention to your surroundings and avoid distractions. Don’t have your headphones in and certainly don’t become preoccupied with your smart phone.
Although these tips may not be foolproof when it comes to avoiding becoming a possible victim of an assault or robbery, information on how to prepare appropriately prior to a possible altercation can be a major asset. So, the next time you find yourself getting ready for a night out in Poughkeepsie, remember that your safety is a crucial component when it comes to having a good time.