Michigan State University has a large campus. Over 5,000 acres, it is the seventh-largest university in the United States.
While this is an impressive feat, it can be daunting for some students, particularly when it comes to safety. For incoming freshmen, the campus can be a labyrinth of streets and dormitories and lecture halls — easy to get lost in on your way home.
Traveling safely at night, either coming from off-campus or traveling through campus, can be a nerve-wracking experience.
Sgt. Kim Parviainen, who is part of the MSU Police Department’s community engagement bureau, said there are a few things students can do when traveling throughout campus to make sure they are aware of their surroundings.
Parviainen said one of the easiest things students can do to stay safe is not get distracted by their phones while walking alone.
“We always recommend limiting your distractions,” Parviainen said. “You don’t want to be snapchatting on your phone or maybe scrolling through Instagram because you could be distracted, especially if you’ve been drinking. That’s going to lower your ability to perceive everything from maybe just tripping over the sidewalk (to) if somebody is maybe following you.”
East Lansing Police Department Captain Chad Connelly said phones could also be a tool for students to utilize to keep themselves safe when walking around campus.
He said if a student is walking home at night and has to walk alone, they should consider calling a roommate and talking to them while walking. Students can also turn on tracking devices on their phones, such as Find My, which Connelly said are not perfect but still a great tool.
“Also, if you’re feeling uncomfortable and you think something is aloof, or not the way it should be ... something you can do is activate that camera,” he said. “So if something does happen, it is recorded.”
Parviainen also warned students about keeping an eye on their drinks while at bars or parties. She said there have been instances where some students have been drugged with Ketamine, GHB and Rohypnol, commonly known as roofies. These further impair the drinker’s judgment and leave them vulnerable. According to the Office on Women’s Health, ketamine, GHB and roofies are the most common date rape drugs.
“Those are drugs that are very easy to drop in someone’s drink,” Parviainen said. “A lot of times they’re colorless, they’re odorless. You have no idea that they’re in there, and they really affect someone’s ability to use judgment, or even just basic functioning.”
Genomics and Molecular Genetics senior Kayley Greenough said she and her friends have certain ways of staying safe when going out. They first make a plan for how they will get to and leave from wherever they are going. She said they also make sure that they stay together and watch each other’s drinks.
“Whether it’s a party or the bar, I’ll always take my friends drinks; if they have to go to the bathroom, or something,” Greenough said.
Greenough said she was once at a fraternity party and saw someone spike a friend’s drink.
“I kind of went over there and I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think she wants to drink this anymore, she’s feeling sick. I need to go dump this out,’” she said.
After the person walked away, Greenough told her friend what happened after the person left, and they left together. She said she chose to tell her friend discreetly because she did not want to accuse the person of doing something while at the fraternity.
“He was probably a brother and other people would probably back him up and we would look like the crazy concerned people,” Greenough said. “I just didn’t want to draw attention to her situation if she wasn’t even comfortable with staying.”
Connelly said if students are uncertain about a situation or feel unsafe, the best thing they can do is call the police.
“We’d much rather get a call that we don’t have to take any action on when we show up, versus not getting that call to come to help somebody and then they ended up needing it,” he said.
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