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Campus safety and security

From the 2011 Parent Orientation Newsletter

The University’s strategy to promote safety and deter crime begins with campus design:

  • Parking ramps and garages with long sight lines, and walls in light colors to highlight visibility
  • More than 1,400 security cameras in parking areas, classroom buildings, bus stops, tunnels and skywalks, and outdoor spaces
  • 20 Code Blue phones to connect directly to the 911 operator at University Police and 200 yellow campus phones for emergency, medical, and safety-related calls
  • Campus shrubs cut low to the ground and trees trimmed up to a six-foot level to prevent hiding spaces
  • Outdoor lighting that exceeds safety guidelines
  • Card-access in residence halls that limits entry into facilities

Safety is a shared responsibility

Licensed police patrol campus and educate students and staff on safe practices.

Student employees trained in first aid and CPR work as security monitors and campus escorts. These escorts can accompany students, staff, and guests to campus locations and to neighborhoods adjacent to the University.

Hundreds of student employees and volunteers are trained in health and safety and oversee recreational activities, work as community advisers and health advocates in residence halls, and volunteer with the Aurora Center for Advocacy for victims of assault and violence.

Planning for emergencies

In a major or campuswide event, the University will send a text message via TXT-U and provide updates on the U’s website. To receive text alerts, your student needs to add your cell phone number to the TXT-U system.

In a campus emergency, the U first alerts those most likely to be immediately affected: people who need to evacuate a building or seek medical treatment, for example. Next the U contacts members of the campus community who are likely to be secondarily affected. After critical information has been delivered to students and staff, an email is sent to parents.

During isolated emergencies significantly threatening health or safety (those taking place on a specific area of campus), parents will find information either on the U’s home page or the Parent home page.

You must be on the parents listserv to receive emergency emails. (Send your email address to parent@umn.edu.) The University website and Twin Cities media may have the most up-to-date information.

During a major event, cell phone signals could be busy, and incoming phone calls may overwhelm telephone systems. To get in touch with your student, text-messaging or email could be more efficient.

Designate a third-party contact in case of emergencies, preferably someone in another state. If you and your student cannot reach each other, then a relative or family friend may be able to relay messages.

The most important factor in campus safety is student awareness

Students must look out for one another and use common sense:

  • Don’t walk alone at night, and don’t let your friends walk alone. Walk together or use the University Escort Service (612-624-WALK). Stick to familiar, well-lit routes.
  • If you see an emergency situation or suspicious activity, call 911 immediately.
  • Don’t use headphones or talk on the phone while walking at night or in isolated areas.
  • Don’t leave valuables unattended. Keep laptops, backpacks, and wallets with you.
  • Secure your bike to a bike rack, using a strong U-bolt bike lock.
  • Lock your door, even when you’re just going down the hall for a few minutes. Lock your door when you’re sleeping.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with a person, situation, or place, leave and go where you can be with others and feel safe.
  • Before going out, be sure you have enough cash to pay for transportation home if you need it. Carry a cell phone or calling card for emergencies, and let a friend know where you are going and when you expect to return.
  • At parties, keep a friend in sight. Don’t leave alone. Don’t leave a drink unattended or accept a drink that you did not see being poured.
  • Become familiar with the safety features on campus and use them.

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TXT-U

TXT-U is an emergency notification text messaging system for the University of Minnesota community.

Students can sign up at TXT-U.

Only U of M students, faculty, and staff can register.

However, students can add more than one mobile device to their account, registering parents, family, or others.

Ask your student to sign up and add your cell phone number.

ICE: In Case of Emergency

It is critical that the University has emergency contact information to notify a family member or friend in case of a medical or personal emergency involving your student.

Students can update or enter emergency contact information on the One Stop website. By clicking on “Personal Information,” students can get to a pulldown menu with “Emergency Contacts” and make sure their information is correct.

Hospital or rescue personnel who need to contact a victim’s family or friends often look for an ICE number in the directory of a cell phone. Ask your student to include ICE in their cell phone.

For multiple contact numbers, students can list ICE1, ICE2, etc. (To keep a number at the top of the directory, they can start with numerals: 1ICE, 2ICE.)

Protect against identity theft

People between the ages of 18 and 29 are the group most commonly victimized by identity theft. Students are uniquely vulnerable because of the public availability of their personal information, their access to credit cards, and their lack of attention to credit issues. Almost 90 percent of identity theft cases at universities occur without the victim realizing it for several months.

Students can protect themselves:

  • Lock the door to your room or apartment.
  • Protect the security of credit and debit card numbers and personal identification numbers (PINs).
  • When choosing a PIN, don’t use an obvious number such as birth date, last four digits of a Social Security number, address, phone number, or any consecutive numbers.
  • Remove personal information from checks, such as middle name, phone number, Social Security number, or driver’s license number.
  • Never give out personal or financial information over the phone or internet unless you know with whom you’re doing business.
  • Be alert to “phishing” scams—emails that look like they come from a bank or payment service. Typically spam emails ask you to verify or disclose banking or personal information.
  • Monitor bank, credit card, and phone statements before paying them. Report any unauthorized activity.
  • Monitor credit reports. You can receive a free copy of your report yearly from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies.