Students reminded to take safety precautions with darker evenings' arrival

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- As Eastern Standard Time “falls back” out of Daylight Savings Time this weekend (Nov. 3), campus will become darker earlier in the evening. In addition to enjoying an extra hour of sleep, Penn State students are encouraged to take note of safety services available at University Park.

The University aims to protect students, faculty and staff with safety services and protocols, including an escort service, an emergency phone service and a card-access system at residence hall entrances.

Sgt. Franie McClellan, crime prevention officer with University Police, said it is important for people walking on campus to unplug from their electronic devices and be aware of their surroundings.

-- While it is always good practice to walk in groups, the Security Escort Service provides accompaniment from dusk to dawn to students, employees and visitors who may feel unsafe walking on campus at night. The escort will be a member of Auxiliary Police, the uniformed student division of University Police. Callers requesting the service will be asked to provide a name, telephone number, present location and intended destination. Callers then will be given an approximate time that a security escort will arrive. The service operates on campus and within reasonable walking distance off campus. To request a security escort, call 814-865-WALK (9255).

-- On-campus emergency phones, easily recognized by their blue lights, are available to use free of charge to report an emergency or criminal activity. The phones automatically call University Police when the receiver is picked up or when the red button on the phone is pushed. Emergency phones without blue lights also are available in residence halls, usually near entrances.

-- The card-access system at residence hall entrances is designed to protect students by only allowing authorized access to the buildings. It requires the cooperation of students, who should not hold doors open for others, especially if they are not recognized as building residents.

-- People walking on campus in the evening hours also should know which paths are well lit and offer the best visibility at night. The campus night map can be found online or picked up at the University Police station in Eisenhower Parking Deck.

Sgt. Franie McClellan, crime prevention officer with University Police, added that it is important for people walking on campus to unplug from their electronic devices and be aware of their surroundings.

“This will help them to avoid a multitude of dangers, such as tripping and falling; colliding with vehicles, bicycles or other pedestrians; or becoming a victim of a crime,” McClellan said.

Witnesses and victims of crime at the University Park campus should contact University Police at 814-863-1111.

For more information on victim resources -- including a victim resource officer, a sexual assault and relationship violence hotline, and medical and emotional support -- visit http://www.police.psu.edu/up-police/services/victim-resources.cfm.

University Police Chief Tyrone Parham offers the following safety tips:

-- If you see it, report it.
-- If you are a victim, get to safety and then report it.
-- Trust your instincts if a situation feels uncomfortable.
-- Look out for your friends and agree to leave social gathering together. Don't leave a social event with someone you just met.
-- Individuals need to be respectful of others. Anytime you are uncertain whether your partner is comfortable with your behavior, ask! “NO” means NO and “I’m not sure” means NO. Silence also means “NO.”

-- If you choose to drink, drink responsibly. Be aware of how alcohol affects you. Drinking obviously impairs judgment and can make people vulnerable to crime or unable to care for themselves, but it also can make some individuals act in aggressive ways. Being under the influence is not a defense for committing sexual/physical assault.
-- Don't allow unescorted guests into residence halls. Residence halls are controlled by 24-hour electronic access.
-- Always lock your door.
-- Know the phone number for University Police. Students need to program 814-863-1111 into their cellphones.
-- Be aware of surroundings. Pay attention while walking. Call police if you notice suspicious or unusual behavior.

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Last Updated November 04, 2013