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Keeping Your Guard Up on Campus During This Festive Season

By Joseph D’Andrea

The spooky season has its fair share of supernatural frights, but there are also real-life scenarios that should be approached with caution, especially if you’re a college student.

Halloween isn’t just a time for kids to go house-to-house collecting their favorite candy. For many who are high school- and college-aged, this time of year invites parties fueled by alcohol, which can lead to dangerous situations.

Although Halloween lands on a Tuesday this year, many students still plan events the weekend before, opening the door to potentially dangerous situations like becoming singled out in a crowd and being surrounded by loud dorm rooms.

Raymond Hughes, chief of campus safety and emergency management at Adelphi University, expressed his concerns surrounding the Halloween season and provided advice for students to keep out of harm’s way. He noted four primary pieces of guidance: “Trust your instincts, use the buddy system, obey laws, rules, and regulations, and keep your phone on.”

Being conscious of and reporting suspicious activity is helpful to not only yourself but others, too. Hughes explained that an effective way to stay aware is to “make a pact [with friends] to arrive and leave together and keep tabs on each other all evening.”

Another concern for college-aged adults is sexual harassment. Kaydeen Pierre is the president of Panthers Against Sexual Assault (PASA), a fairly new organization on campus that aims to bring awareness of the different sexual abuse and assaults that occur in our society and on campus.

Pierre said based on sexual harassment alerts sent out by Public Safety in the last two years, the rate will rise at this time of year. “I believe that there should be more safety officers going around campus, especially at night, when it is more common for people to participate in unsafe activities.”

In addition to echoing Hughes’ advice of creating a buddy system, Pierre also stressed the importance of a having designated driver “in order for them to not have to worry about drinking and driving.”

PASA faculty advisor Tracy Stopler said, “My concern is that of students not being as focused after drinking. Whether they're drinking alcohol, smoking pot or doing other drugs, they lose their sensibilities. And in losing their sensibilities, it increases their risk of being assaulted.”

Stopler, who is also a child victims advocate at the Safe Center LI in Bethpage and the author of “The Ropes That Bind,” which is a true story based on child sexual abuse, supported the idea of staying close to someone who they could go home with so they're never walking or in a cab or Uber alone.

Theft is also an issue — though not just at Halloween. Hughes mentioned that Public Safety has initiated Operation Gotcha!, a theft prevention program that includes reminders to students and the larger campus community to lock their doors and be mindful of their property.

Remaining cautious applies to when you’re in your dorm—and that includes some basic safety like fire prevention.

“During the month of October, there is an increased usage of costumes/masks and decorations,” Hughes said. “Some decorations may include candles to create a spooky atmosphere, but remember, on campus, there are no open flames/candles allowed. This is especially important so we can avoid fires… Discretion and common sense are key.”

The Public Safety and Transportation section of Adelphi’s website features Halloween Safety Tips as well as general safety tips. Public Safety is available 24/7, 365 days a year and can be contacted at 516-877-3511.

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