College students in U.S. have a thin line of safety to cross

Updated 2017-08-29 11:00:19 Xinhua

As the school year begins for international students who have arrived in the United States in recent days and are excited to adjust to school environment, four tips to help create knowledge base with campus security services and self-protection measures.

"International students are enjoying their area, this is maybe their first time visiting. So they are looking around, taking pictures, maybe looking like a tourist," said Wade MacAdam, who works with Police Department's Safety Programs, University of California, Berkeley.

He believes that those behaviors will make them easy target. "So they need to be more aware of their surroundings," MacAdam added.

According to the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report 2016, released by FBI this year, the number of violent crimes in the United States increased by 5.3 percent for the first 6 months of 2016, when compared with figures reported for the same time in 2015, even though the number of property crimes decreased by 0.6 percent.

FBI's data shows that the number of aggravated assaults increased 6.5 percent, murders increased 5.2 percent, rapes (legacy definition) increased 4.4 percent, rapes (revised definition) rose 3.5 percent, and robbery offenses were up 3.2 percent.

Many international students came to their dream schools in the United States for better education. However, seeking a safe education should be of the first importance than academic success, as Yingying Zhang, a visiting scholar from China at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is still missing after she was kidnapped on June 9.

"Some international students, including those from China, are usually introverted, unfamiliar with the new environment, or even speak poor English," said Fengxiang Qiao, Professor from Texas Southern University (TSU). "When police chief introducing security services during school orientation, some of them might not listen carefully, or even couldn't fully understand. So they are short of such knowledge."

California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois are in sequence the top 5 states hosting international students, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE). So Xinhua interviewed students, local residents, security officers and professors from universities in these states to find useful self-protection suggestions, and there are four takeaways for international students.

CAMPUS "BLUE LIGHT" EMERGENCY PHONE

Most college campuses across the United States employ the "Blue Light" emergency phones. When students feel unsafe on a college campus, they can push the "call' button on the blue tower. Then, campus police will be dispatched to that location in few minutes. Students are usually familiar with the system during campus tours and freshman orientation.

The emergency phone system is a timely way to call campus police, especially when geography that causes spotty wireless coverage or 911 services fail.

"Don't necessarily call 911, because it goes straight to the Houston Police Department and they'll call us and it delays the time," said Fred Brown, the Deputy Chief of TSU Police.

"If you would call 911 from your cellular phone, it might go to a neighboring department and route to the university police," said MacAdam. "The only advantage with the blue light phone is we know where their location is. If you would call from your cell phone, we don't know, and you have to relate that information to us."

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