When it comes to campus safety, Lt. Schuyler Bailey says, mother may know best.
"It's things like avoiding the dark and walking in groups," said Bailey, of Kansas University's Public Safety Office. "It's everything their parents have been talking to them about, the same lessons they've heard since age 6. Those still hold true at 18 or 19."
Crime rates at KU have plummeted the past five years. Crime is down 45 percent since 1997.
But Bailey said that didn't mean students should let their guards down.
"Crime does occur," Bailey said. "But I think we have a little more informed, more careful public."
He also cited better lighting on campus for the decrease.
The Public Safety Office begins giving students advice about their safety during new student orientation.
"We talk to students about safety before they even get here," Bailey said.
- Watch out for date rape drugs.
"Watch your drinks, don't accept mixed drinks from other people and if you leave the table for any reason, don't go back to an unattended drink," Bailey said.
- Protect your valuables.
"Leave your expensive things at home," Bailey said. "Don't rely on a $4 lock for your $400 bike."
He also suggested students write serial numbers and descriptions of valuables on paper, and keeping copies at their parents' house and at their residence hall or apartment.
- Follow your gut when it comes to relationships and dating to avoid rapes or assaults.
"If it feels wrong, get out of the situation," Bailey said.
- Penalties for drug and alcohol use.
"Our approach is we're not preaching to you," he said. "I'm not your mom or dad. I tell you the facts. If you're going to use and you're caught, this is what could happen to you."
Rates are down
There were 807 crimes reported to the KU Public Safety Office during 2002, down 10 percent from 2001.
One of the biggest drops in the past five years was in burglaries, which have decreased 53 percent, though they were up slightly last year. Bailey said several key arrests made about five years ago sent a message to would-be thieves.
There were 304 theft reports on campus last year, and 161 burglaries.
"Theft has been and always will the No. 1 crime on campus," he said.
The crime reduction comes as the Public Safety Office has seen a decrease in officers. There are 26 officers currently working at KU, though the department is authorized for 29 and is looking to hire three. In 1984, when Bailey started, there were 37 positions.
"Everybody is doing more with less, but we're stretched," he said.
Still, he said officers are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the safety of students, staff, visitors and property.
"We encourage people, if you see anything that looks out of the ordinary, to report it," he said.
Bailey suggested students think about their personal safety as they begin the school year.
"KU is a city within a city," he said. "The student is somewhat responsible for their protection and the protection of their property."