"Is my student safe on campus?" It's one of the most common questions parents ask, and it’s natural to wonder.
Most U-M students are living away from parental oversight for the first time, making more of their own choices than ever before, and college can bring brand new safety challenges for young people. The good news is, the U-M Student Life takes student safety extremely seriously.
One of the many ways in which Student Life addresses student safety is by providing workshops in Personal Safety Education (PSE). The goal of PSE is to empower students to recognize and respond to safety matters of many types. The Dean of Students Office provides free introductory PSE workshops where students practice diverse safety skills like awareness, body language, verbal and social strategies, and emergency physical tactics.
Here’s one attendee’s experience:
[The Personal Safety Education workshop] was really extremely helpful. Today in the morning I came across a very aggressive and apparently drunk (or substance abusing) guy much taller and stronger than me and I felt already much more confident and stronger to deal with this (relatively harmless but to me still scary) situation. Gudrun, U-M Postdoctoral Research Fellow
In PSE, students learn ideas and practice skills to respond to questions like: "What are my choices if someone is pressuring me to do something I don’t want to do?" and "How can I help safely if I see someone else being hurt?" and "What are the most common crimes on campus, and how can I reduce my risk of being targeted?"
Recently, students involved with Beyond the Diag, a student safety and community building program for those living off-campus, hosted a PSE workshop. Stephanie Karaa, a senior in the Ross School of Business and Economics, LS&A, had this to say:
It’s important for U-M students to learn about Personal Safety Education because of the misconceptions surrounding these issues. It is not only women that need to worry about personal safety, and these workshops teach both men and women various tools that can get them out of certain situations while candidly discussing the reality of many issues in a safe space.
New this year, Michigan students will also be able to take a three credit course in Personal Safety Education. In Fall, 2013, Violence Prevention in College and Beyond (PHYSED 313.001) will teach self-defense, bystander interventions on behalf of others, and community-wide mobilization of anti-violence resources, with a focus on social justice for all. Kinesiology has opened this course to students of all schools and colleges; individual students should check availability with their academic advisors.
After taking PSE, students report that they feel more confident about setting boundaries with strangers, better able to communicate assertively with friends and colleagues, and much more aware of risks on campus and resources to deal with them.
Encourage your student to find out more about safety from one of the many offices at U-M that provide safety education, including: the Dean of Students Office's Personal Safety newsletter, the U-M Police Department, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center, Community Matters, University Health Service’s Stay in the Blue campaign, Counseling and Psychological Services, and the Expect Respect Campaign.
To support Student Safety Education at Michigan, please consider making a donation to the Student Life.