Prepared Not Scared: College Campus Safety

As a female college student at a small university in Virginia, I’ve been thinking a lot about Hannah Graham lately.

If you’ve followed the story at all, you’ll know that Graham is an 18 year-old sophomore who went missing from the UVA area last week. The search is ongoing, but it brings up uncomfortable memories of a girl taken five years ago in the same area who was later found dead.

This past week, too many conversations with friends have focused on Graham, but more importantly, too many of focused on giving each other tips for being safe. Asking them to text me when they’re home.

When I went to college, I had all the safety tips drilled into my head: don’t walk alone, get rides after dark, don’t accept drinks from strangers, know your surroundings.

The 2014 Presidential Task force estimates that more than 10,000 college students will experience aggravated assault or robbery each year on college campuses. Furthermore, 1 in 5 women will be a victim of sexual assault on their college campus.

These are terrifying statistics, but ones I don’t admittedly keep on the forefront of my mind. Sketchy things happen to other people—not me.

Until last year, when a window in my apartment was vandalized and an intoxicated man wandered into my roommate’s room while she slept.

It was a classic drunk college guy mistake, and everything was fine. But my sister responded by sending my roommates and me a care package that included four SABRE pepper spray keychains and a warning to lock our doors. [If you’re in need of locksmith services take care of that right away! A broken lock is as bad as not locking the door at all.]

This year, SABRE is sponsoring a college campus safety campaign to raise awareness not only for their products, but for basic campus safety. When the opportunity arose to review some free SABRE products, I jumped at the chance.

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The package SABRE sent me included Pepper Gel (like Pepper Spray, but less likely to affect bystanders or the person spraying it), a practice spray, and three home alarms.

Admittedly, the practice spray is definitely my favorite of the materials I received. I’ve always been super eager to try pepper spray, but I’ve managed to resist, because I’m accident prone and would probably end up spraying myself. So you can imagine how giddy I was to get the chance to try a non-dangerous spray.

The actual gel is incredibly convenient as it comes with multiple key chain options, either for hanging on your keys or attaching to a book bag with a quick release option as well. Also, bonus points for making it pink and cute.

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The home alarms are incredibly powerful and loud for their small size. My favorite is the small personal alarm that goes on a keychain. When in danger, all you have to do is quickly pull the pin out of it, and one of the loudest alarms you have ever head in your life goes off. I put it on my keychain, but I do have to admit that I’m a little worried it might get stuck on something someday and go off in class while attempting to pull my Spanish book out.

The other two alarms are specifically for home purposes. One attaches to your door and the doorframe (or window), and alerts you when the door opens. It has two settings: a gentle little beep, and a full out banshee wail. I full admit to setting this up without telling my roommate and putting it on the banshee setting. I think she almost had a heart attack while lugging her groceries inside that day.

The third alarm is called the Gatekeeper, and is geared more toward overnight protection. It looks like a doorstop, and you simply place it in front of the door of your choice before you go to sleep. If anyone attempts to open the door from the outside, the Gatekeeper effectively wedges it shut, and makes it almost impossible to open the door fully. It also lets out a banshee like scream. I admittedly did not try too hard to get past it, as I live in a rented house and didn’t feel like buying a new door. That and my eardrums were bleeding a little (figuratively).

While the Gatekeeper is a little intense, I highly suggest anyone looking for personal safety items to invest in the pepper gel and the personal alarm at the very least. The personal alarm is tiny and nonthreatening looking, but that sound could scare anyone off. Be sure to check with your campus police first though, to make sure that pepper spray and gel are allowed on campus and not considered a restricted item.

For more information on campus safety, you can check out how to bring a SABRE safety representative to your school!


This was a paid sponsorship opportunity sponsored by SABRE and HerCampus. All statements reflect the opinion and views of the author.

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