ARCH ADVICE: Keeping safety in mind

By Megan Hearron, LCSW-C, Counseling Services

McDaniel College and the surrounding town of Westminster, is a safe, close-knit community. The number of sexual assaults and other violent crimes reported here are low, especially when compared to more urban areas or larger campuses. However, recent reports that a sexual assault occurred off-campus this summer has opened many eyes to the fact that McDaniel is not immune to such incidents. Personal safety should always be a concern.

Statistically, students at any college campus are vulnerable to sexual assault. Keep this thought, as well as the following safety tips, in mind:

• Always use the buddy system! Don’t attend parties alone, and always keep an eye out for the friends you came with. Be sure to leave with them, too.

• Don’t walk around campus or in town alone, especially at night. Campus Safety is always available for an escort. Program their number (417-857-2202) in your cell phone for quick access.

• Don’t keep residence hall doors propped open, and always lock the door to your room.

• Limit the amount of information you list on your Facebook or MySpace pages. Don’t put personal information on any sites, such as your phone number, address, dorm, or birthday.

• If you choose to drink, do so responsibly and in moderation. Avoid binge drinking, drinking games, shots, and other high-risk types of drinking. Be sure that your friends do, too.

• Don’t ever leave your drink unattended. Only have drinks you have poured yourself or those that are in factory-sealed bottles or cans.

• Follow your instincts. If a situation feels bad, it probably is. Get out of it.

• Remember that any lack of consent means there is NO consent. That includes someone who is unable to give their consent because they are intoxicated.

• Know that you have the right to set your sexual limits. Communicate these limits to your partner. It’s a good idea to know what you want and don’t want before you end up alone with someone.

The college has always been concerned about the issue of sexual assault on our campus. There are policies in place regarding this issue, and they are listed in your McDaniel College Handbook. If you, or someone you know, are assaulted, seek support and consider the resources available. RAs and Peer Mentors, Student Affairs (x2244), Counseling Services (x3305), Campus Safety (x2202), and Health Services (x2243) are all available on campus to help. Off-campus resources, such as Carroll County Rape Crisis Intervention Services (410-857-7322, 24-hour hotline), Carroll Hospital Center (410-848-3000), Carroll County Advocacy and Investigation Center (410-386-3640), and Westminster Police (410-848-4646) are able to provide additional services and support.