This article appeared in the Fresh Start issue of the Collegian, sent to new Penn State students.
Living in a dorm can be a completely new experience for new students, and the biggest worries they might have is learning how to do laundry, getting locked out of their room or getting lost.
University Police Chief Tyrone Parham said that students often forget their own personal welfare when moving away from home.
"I think it's always a challenge every year for the most because it's often a students' first time away from home," he said. "Most students have never even done an overnight camp."
He said that University Police fields reports for a couple of common crimes, particularly thefts.
Parham said students should lock the doors to their dorm rooms every time they leave, even if it's just to use the bathroom.
"Because so many things tend to just walk off from the dorms, it's hard to believe that some students leave their room unlocked all day when they go to class," he said.
He also said ensuring that students avoid allowing other people to "piggyback" -- or come in behind them without using their own cards to swipe in -- is another way to prevent people from stealing items in the dorms.
He said it may seem rude, but students should ask anyone coming in behind them to use their own cards.
The Auxiliary Police hire students to "patrol the exterior areas of residence halls from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Friday and 3 p.m. to 7 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday." They also have to check the entrance doors to make sure the ID swipe works.
Kevin Dougherty (freshman-graphic design) said, "Make sure you know the people in the dorm surrounding you."
Parham also stressed the importance of using locks on lockers on campus and locking bikes to the appropriate racks.
Alcohol related incidents make up the other tier of crimes University Police deals with most often, Parham said.
"A lot of times the people that drink too much are under 21," he said. "Because they aren't used to drinking alcohol, they don't know the boundaries."
He said the students who binge drink are the ones who run into serious situations, like assaults.
He stressed that students stay in groups at night, as walking alone increases their chances of something happening.
If a student is uncomfortable walking home alone, he or she can call for an escort from University Police at 814-865-WALK.
Ryan Coleman (freshman-engineering) said, "Don't leave your dorm with people you don't know."
A resident assistant also lives on each floor and they can always help students who are having safety issues.
There are emergency phones all over campus, recognized by their blue lights. If you pick one up, it automatically dials the University Police.
Parham also said new students tend forget that they can program the number for University Police into their phones to call the police quickly if they need.
"The students should really feel comfortable calling the police," he said.
Parham stressed that students should treat campus and the surrounding community the same way they would their hometown.
"The same laws that apply in your hometown, apply here," he said.
Collegian staff writer Paige Minemyer contributed to this report.