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Pre-College Program (PCP)
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College
Columbia University

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Pre-College Program (PCP)

Teachers College, Columbia University

Student Life > Personal Safety Tips

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Student Life

Personal Safety Tips

Adapted from Guide to Campus Living A-Z

Take responsibility for your own safety
  • Be aware of your surroundings and what is going on around you.  Keep your head up and your eyes moving.
  • Walk purposely, at a steady pace, with a self-assured stride.  Confidence deters attackers.
  • When walking at night, walk in well lighted and well trafficked areas.  Avoid walking through parks, parking lots, isolated or deserted areas.
  • Use the buddy system.  When traveling at night try to arrange to walk or ride with friends.
  • Walk in the center of sidewalks away from doors and bushes.
  • If you suspect you are being followed, indicate your suspicion by looking behind you.  If you are on foot, cross the street, change direction, or vary your speed.  Walk to a location where there are other people, to the nearest open store, or to a Columbia University “SAFE HAVEN” location (RED LION DECAL ON WINDOW).
  • Avail yourself of the free Columbia University Shuttles, and/or the free Columbia University Escort Service (854-SAFE or 854-5555).
  • Stay away from isolated ATM locations.  Plan ahead so you can avoid using ATM machines at off-hours.
  • Do not feel bullied by people who look you in the eyes.  Look them in the eyes. Eye contact makes everyone uneasy.  Use that to your advantage.
  • Be wary of strangers at night.  It is better to be rude than to be in trouble.
  • Trust you instincts.  Don’t allow rationality to over-ride your “sixth sense” – it could protect you from danger.
  • Do not resist armed robbers.  Property can be replaced – your life can not.
  • Do not openly display and study maps on a public street as this indicates you are a stranger to the community, unfamiliar with your surroundings, and a potential victim.

Taking Public Transportation
  • Know your timetables to avoid long waits – especially if you are alone.
  • Avoid empty subway cars.
  • Late at night, buses are safer than subways.  Sit close to the bus driver.
  • Plan your route in advance.  At night, do not get off a bus or subway in a neighborhood you are not familiar with.
  • Try to avoid isolated bus or subway stops.
  • Keep your handbag and personal property in front of you and hold it close to your body.
  • Don’t open your purse or wallet while boarding the bus.
  • Stay alert and be aware of the people around you.

Columbia University Shuttle Bus Routes

Teachers College students, faculty and staff have free access to Columbia University’s Shuttle Bus routes.  This service is free of charge to members of the Teachers College Community with a valid TC ID card

Columbia University Escort Service

The Escort Service is a footed patrol or a security vehicle service that is available from 8:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M.   During the school year, the Escort Service will send two specially trained students to accompany students, faculty or staff to their door any time from 8:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M., seven nights a week.  Escorts carry two-way Columbia University Public Safety radios.  This service is available from West 108th Street to West 110th Street between Amsterdam Avenue and Riverside Drive, and from West 111th Street to West 122nd Street between Morningside Drive and Riverside Drive.

For more information about this service you may visit the CU Department of Public Safety web site at

Avoiding Theft of Personal Property

Theft is the unlawful taking of personal property and is the single most common crime on most college campuses. What can you do to prevent theft?  Simply remove the opportunity by following the suggestions below:

  • Lock your doors/windows whenever you leave your room or apartment.
  • Do not allow unescorted strangers inside your room/apartment.
  • Be suspicious of unknown persons loitering in the area.
  • Never leave an exterior door propped open.
  • Keep a record of your valuables.
  • Avoid keeping handbags under your desk or classroom work table.
  • Lock your office door if the office is left unattended, even for short periods.
  • Do not bring large sums of cash to work or school. Carry only the credit cards and identification required.
  • If you must leave your purse or wallet in your work area, lock it in a locker or desk.  In a classroom, keep it in front of you where you can see it at all times.
  • Do not leave personal property unattended even for a minute.
  • Report any suspicious persons/activities to library personnel or to the Office of Public Safety.
  • Keep personal property in view at all times.
  • Try not to bring valuables with you to the library.
  • Secure all personal property in a locker.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money or other valuables with you to the athletic facility.
  • Report any suspicious persons to the athletic staff, to the Columbia Office of Public Safety, or to the TC Office of Public Safety. Keep your locker locked whenever unattended.