Personal Safety

Off Campus Student Services Staff and Area Landlords, want our students to know what  safety precautions they should take.  Unfortunately, each year, some students are victims of certain crimes. Some common factors are the misuse of alcohol, drugs, and assuming strangers are fellow UMASS students.  Some students let strangers come into their apartment, leading to theft.  Other students have been traveling late at night and fall victim to assaults and fights.  Listed here are a number of precautions to protect you, your housemates, and your belongings.

Know the Basics

  • Do not consent to having your photo and personal information distributed in campus community publications.
  • Do not give out personal information, such as your social security or credit card numbers, over the phone to people you do not know.
  • Share your school/work/social schedule with family and close friends.
  • Do not attach your name or address to your key chain.
  • Always carry identification with you.
  • Do not leave your personal property unattended! Take items with you or lock them up, even if you are only leaving for a few minutes.
  • Register your property with the University’s Project Protect  - this increases the chances of retrieving your belongings.
  • Program your phone with emergency numbers: UMASS Police 413-545-2121 & Amherst Police 413-259-3000.
  • Report any suspicious or unusual activities immediately to campus or local police.
  • If you sense a potential threat, assess the situation and take action.
  • If you are followed, move to a well-lighted area or create a commotion. Shout for help.

Going Out

  • Be smart. Be responsible. If you choose to drink alcohol, pace yourself.
  • Avoid hard alcohol and other drinks that are powerful and have fast effects. Know your limits.
  • Before going to a party, tell a friend where you’re going and when you’ll be back. Let them know if your plans change.
  • Don’t drink and drive, or ride with drunk drivers. Have a safe ride home planned before you go out.
  • When using Taxi Services, ask the driver what the cost is before entering the cab.
  • Pour your own drinks if possible, or watch others that fix your drinks.
  • Never, ever leave your drink alone or with someone you don’t know. Don’t take drinks or anything else from strangers, even food.
  • If a party gets out of hand, leave!
  • Go out with your friends and go home with your friends. Look out for one another.
  • Have a safety buddy, someone you can call for a ride or for help, and create a code word or phrase that means “Come help me out of this” or “I’m in trouble.

Off Campus Safety

  • Doors and windows to your residence should be equipped with quality locking mechanisms.
  • Entry doors should have peep holes and dead bolt locks.
  • Never loan out your key.
  • Always lock your doors and 1st and 2nd floor windows at night. Never leave a door unlocked for a housemate.
  • Do not leave your valuables, such as your ID, wallet, jewelry, etc. in open view.
  • Do not let strangers in the building or allow them to “tailgate” in behind you.
  • Do not leave notes on your door that you are not there.
  • Keep your shades drawn when changing clothes or retiring for the night.
  • Leave spare keys with a trusted neighbor; never hide them around the exterior of your apartment.
  • Arrange for service people to come when someone else will be present.
  • Avoid isolated areas, such as stairwells, laundry rooms, the basement, etc. when you are alone.

In Your Vehicle

  • Park in well-lighted areas.
  • Do not leave valuables lying in plain view in the vehicle. Take them with you or lock them in the trunk.
  • Do not leave your keys in your car.
  • Remember where you parked your car so you don’t have to wander around looking for it.
  • Keep your doors and windows locked.
  • Remember where you park. Have your key ready to open your doors as you approach your car.
  • Look inside your vehicle before getting inside.
  • If you are followed by someone in another vehicle, drive to an open business, fire station, police station, etc. for help. Do not drive to your residence.
  • Don’t offer rides to people you don’t know.

Online

  • Protect your computer from Internet intruders. Use anti-virus software and firewalls.
  • Create passwords that would be difficult for someone to guess. Protect your passwords.
  • Never give your name, address, telephone number, passwords, credit card numbers, or other personal information to others online.
  • Never agree to meet alone and face to face with someone you’ve met online.
  • Take a friend with you and meet in a public place.
  • Never respond to messages from unfamiliar persons.

Traveling On Campus

Study the campus and surrounding neighborhood. Learn where the emergency phones are located.

Know the PVTA routes and use the buses.

Travel in groups. Never walk alone at night—use a shuttle or escort service if one is available.

Avoid taking shortcuts.

Check out the campus during the day and at night. Be familiar with dark areas near buildings, in parking lots, etc.

If you are working or studying late, make sure that the office or classroom door is locked.

Never leave doors propped open.

Avoid entering an elevator occupied by a suspicious person. If someone in the elevator makes you feel uncomfortable, get off at the next floor.

Bicycles are a popular option for students. Remember to:
1. Lock up your bike with a “U” type of lock over chain,
2. Wear a helmet,
3. When on the road, obey traffic laws and walk your bike across crosswalks,
4. If on a sidewalk, pedestrians have the right of way,
5. Register your bike with Project Protect.