For many university and college students, going away to school will be the first time living away from home in an unfamiliar city or country in student accommodations. By international standards, Waterloo is a safe city, with low levels of violence and street crime.
This blog is designed to help students prepare by offering practical advice about living and studying in Waterloo. It highlights some of the safety and security issues to be aware of and lists organizations to contact for help.
Common sense and a good student accommodation security program in place can make a real difference and ensure that students feel comfortable and safe. Everyone can have a happy, fun and successful year if they stay alert and are aware of some key tips to maintain a safe experience while away at school.
12 Common Sense Safety Tips for Students in Waterloo
1. It is always best to stay on well-lit and busy public routes/areas.
2. Turn the volume down on your headphones to stay alert to unusual surroundings or situations.
3. Have your keys ready for a swift entry into your house/apartment.
4. Keep your valuables/personal belongings close to you when walking.
5. It is a good idea to carry a whistle or sound device to draw attention if you ever feel you are in danger.
6. Always make sure your cellular device is fully charged.
7 . Share your class schedule and home arrival times with your roommate, friends or parents.
8. When traveling, plan your bus or walk routes and stick to the plan. For example, Grand River Transit frequent bus routes on King st. N and Regina st. N run every 5 – 10 minutes.
9. Familiarize yourself with your student housing location and its proximity to important destinations like your school, your bank, grocery story etc. Also, become familiar with the map of your campus.
a. University of Waterloo Student Safety – Be well-acquainted with the ways you can contact help in the event of an emergency, for example: the yellow poles with a blue light located throughout the campus have a button to call the University Police or the red University of Waterloo Police button on any Bell payphone on the university campus. Find out more about University of Waterloo Police Services. uWaterloo also offers a Shuttle Service for student traveling between campuses.
b. Wilfrid Laurier University Student Safety – Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union Foot Patrol is a volunteer operated safe-walk program available daily during evening hours. Teams of two are assigned to escort students to and from campus by foot or by van. Find out more about the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union Foot Patrol.
c. Conestoga College Student Safety – Security’s Walksafe service provides escorts to staff, students and visitors at Doon Campus upon request during the school year. To access this service, requesters must attend at either Door 1 or 6, Security Services located at 2B10-6, or contact Security Services by phone at ext. 3357. Find out more about Conestoga College’s Walksafe Program.
10. Try to travel with other people, particularly at night.
11. Always be extra alert at the ATM.
12. If you cycle, use a good quality “U” lock and lock your bicycle to a proper bicycle rack in a well-lit area.
Students should use common sense and to trust their instincts. If a situation feels wrong, it probably is. Students should not feel embarrassed asking for help. Any situation that causes concern is a legitimate reason for asking for help,
4 Tips for Student Housing Safety
1. Keep your student housing areas safe by never advertising when you are not home.
2. Make sure to never leave doors or windows unlocked. You and your roommates will all feel safer in the house if everyone knows that the door is always locked.
3. The best home security comes from neighbors who look out for one another. Make it a point to meet your neighbours. Choose neighbours you trust and ask them to keep an eye on things if you are away.
4. Make sure the student housing you choose focuses on safety and security of its residents.
Secure and safe accommodations for Waterloo university students should include the following:
- High definition cameras located in the lobby, hallways of each floor, basement, underground and above ground parking areas, elevators, common areas and all amenities (interior and exterior).
- Multiple lock systems with variety to ensure that if you were to lose one of them, there is still no way someone could enter your room. Having a FOB system for the building, a key to get into your apartment and a keypad for your bedroom is a good example of a variety of lock systems.
- Additional security system at night, such as having security guards on duty
- Concierge CSR staff working nights
- Maintained landscape to avoid tall/large bushes to maximize visibility
- A well-lit building, both interior and exterior, to ensure visibility and security
- Bike rack areas with security features such as FOB access and cameras
- A sense of community in your student housing so that everyone can feel connected and secure together. For example, at Rez-One, students can take advantage of “Tenant Appreciation Day” where tenants have the opportunity to get to know your neighbours and staff even better.
For first time college and university students or experienced students, it is always important to really think about safety and security, both on and off campus. These safety tips for Waterloo area students are a helpful start.
Post-secondary education is exciting – filled with new friends, amazing learning experiences and many wonderful memories. Moving away from home and living independently gives students the opportunity to take on mature responsibilities including cooking, budgeting, and studying. A key adult responsibility all students need to adjust to is being responsible for their own safety. These safety tips should help.