Shortly before my second year of college, I received a few orientation and mobility lessons for learning how to navigate with low vision and a blindness cane. These lessons were helpful for learning general travel skills, but I noticed they didn’t get into specifics about navigating college campuses or using university resources available for students with vision loss. One lesson that would have been really helpful is how to get help from campus police and request security escorts, so I’ve created the College O&M series to share my most-used tips and strategies for learning about this topic and others. Here are my tips for how to contact campus police and request security escorts, from a student with low vision who uses a blindness cane.
Depends on the college/university. At my college, the campus security/campus police are part of the city police system, though their jurisdiction is restricted to campus property. That said, if you get arrested by campus security, the arrest will be on your permanent record and is equivalent of getting arrested by county/city police.
In addition to campus security, my college also has a student police program where undergraduate students can provide services to students such as security escorts, or they do other tasks with officers such as drive around campus or respond to certain calls alongside the police- for example, I had someone from the student police program accompany the police officer that came to help when I passed out in an academic building bathroom from appendicitis.
In the last five years I have attended my college, I have called campus security for a variety of reasons, and much more often than the average college student. Some of these reasons include:
Since I ended up in the back of a campus security car (which in this case was a police car) on my first day of living on campus after getting horribly lost, I didn’t have to think about introducing myself to the police or reaching out in advance. My advice is that students with vision loss should not introduce themselves to campus security in advance, but they should make sure that they familiarize themselves with campus security information. This can include:
One of the most popular services that college campus security provides is a security escort, which allows students to request a student officer or other officer to escort them back to their dorm or another location at any time of the day or night. While these escorts are not a substitute for a human guide or class transportation, they are helpful for people who may not feel comfortable walking alone at night or who otherwise do not feel well.
At my college, students can request a security escort by calling campus security, also known as campus dispatch, and requesting for a security escort from building A to building B. When I first started attending my college, I would mention that I used a blindness cane and that I would need to either ride in a car or have one of the officers serve as a human guide as I have trouble seeing my surroundings – as I became more well-known on campus, I stopped having to mention this. It typically takes fifteen minutes or less for a security escort to show up, and they are not permitted to enter student dorms.
In some cases, students who are filing a report or who witnessed an event will be asked to give a statement to campus security officers or the police. While there are many cases where I can provide meaningful information, there are times where I did not see anything that was going on or that I can’t say things with certainty. In these cases, it’s helpful to write or say something like this:
By Veronica Lewis/Veronica With Four Eyes, www.veroniiiica.com
Updated September 2023; original post published October 2017.
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