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Awareness & Prevention

The safety and security of our students, faculty and staff are matters of great concern at Cornish College of the Arts. Our staff makes every possible attempt to keep the campus both safe and secure; the success of our security program, however, depends upon the awareness and cooperation of every member of the community. We hope you will read this reference information with care, and will use the information provided to help foster a safe environment for yourself and others at Cornish.

Campus Safety and Security informs the campus community about crime awareness and safety. When we receive a report about crime that may have an impact on the College community, a “Security Advisory Report” with information about the specific crime and tips on avoiding similar crimes is distributed to the College community via broadcast email.

The effectiveness of any security program depends on the degree of cooperation and support it receives from those it is designed to protect. Your role in preventing crime is to keep yourself, your apartment, your car, your classroom, and your office safe by incorporating safe behavior into your daily routine.

During New Student Orientation, Campus Safety and Security offers a crime prevention presentation to develop crime prevention awareness and distributes educational crime prevention and awareness materials. Discussions on crime prevention are held throughout the year and are open to all members of the community.

There is no perfect way to protect yourself, but there are some simple things you can do to minimize your risk of being a victim of crime.

Personal Safety Tips

The key to a safe college begins with self-education, taking precautions and becoming aware of prevention methods. At Cornish, Campus Safety and Security, staff, faculty and students continue to work together and take responsibility for their own safety and are ready to assist others in time of need. This strategy is effective and works! Most incidents on campus can be avoided if we recognize that we’re “potential victims” and take basic precautions such as walking in pairs when out at night or during high-risk periods, locking offices and car doors, and not leaving personal valuables unattended. Campus Safety and Security is always available to meet with individuals, groups, clubs, etc., to discuss safety, crime prevention methods and related issues.

Basic Street Sense

  • Criminals don’t “come out of nowhere.” They are hiding on the same pavement you are walking on. When out on the street do not switch off your personal radar. Pay attention to people and vehicles 100 feet from you and assess not only immediate danger, but also the potential for any future danger.
  • It is important to be aware of your surroundings for both potential threats, and for escape routes. Look around and observe what’s going on near and around you.
  • Walk with a friend or a group of friends. Walk briskly, know where you are going, and be familiar with an area before traveling it on foot.
  • Walk with confidence—send the message that you’re calm, aware, and in control. Body language works
  • Be aware of anyone approaching or closing the gap. Avoid stopping to answer questions, or responding to some comment or innocuous request.
  • Report strangers or suspicious activity in the area to Campus Safety and the Seattle Police immediately.
  • Don’t let alcohol or drugs fog your judgment
  • Avoid walking or jogging alone, especially at night.
  • Stick to well-lighted and well-traveled areas. At night, try to stay on well-lighted streets. Avoid doorways, shrubbery, dark shadows near buildings, and other potential hiding places.
  • Avoid taking shortcuts through isolated areas like alleys and parking lots.
  • Park in well-lit areas, even if you will be gone only a few minutes.
  • Take the shuttle and use on campus walking escorts.
  • Stay away from deserted laundromats or apartment house laundry rooms at night; be cautious in the daytime.
  • When you take out your wallet, don’t reveal your money.
  • Never leave your purse or backpack unattended.
  • If someone is following you, cross the street, change directions, vary your pace, or walk in the street.
  • Try to let someone know where you are going.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and try to avoid walking distances in high heels, especially at night.
  • Whistles or Freon horns are good to carry; they might scare off potential attackers.
  • Don’t hitchhike, and don’t pick up hitchhikers.
  • When driving in your car, keep doors locked; always check around and under your car as you approach it. Make sure to look into your car before getting in. Don’t let your car surprise you.
  • In a cab or friend’s car, ask the driver to wait until you signal you are safely inside your house before they depart.
  • Report strangers or suspicious activity in the area immediately to Campus Safety and Security and the Seattle Police.
  • Trust your instincts!

Reporting a Crime or Suspicious Person

The key to a safe environment begins with self-education, taking precautions and becoming aware of prevention methods. At Cornish, Campus Safety and Security, staff, faculty and students continue to work together and take responsibility for their own safety and are ready to assist others in time of need. This strategy is effective and works! Most incidents on campus can be avoided if we recognize that we are “potential victims” and take basic precautions such as walking in pairs when out at night or during high-risk periods, locking offices and car doors, and not leaving personal valuables unattended. Campus Safety and Security is always available to meet with individuals, groups, clubs, etc., to discuss safety, crime prevention methods and related issues.

Your initial response to a crime or emergency will depend on the urgency of the situation. For all police/fire/medical emergencies which are life or property threatening you should immediately call 911 (9-911 from campus phones). After you have given the information to the 911 operator, immediately call Security and relay the same information. Campus Safety and Security works closely with local emergency responders and they depend on us to meet them on campus and provide assistance. If there is no immediate threat, call MCC Security and advise the security officer of your circumstances. An officer will be dispatched to make contact with you. The situation will be assessed to determine if Seattle Police need to respond. The security officer will gather relevant information and write a report. That report is then reviewed by Campus Safety and Security and Cornish administrators and an appropriate response is formulated.

Cornish encourages the reporting of all crimes that you witness or have information about, even minor crimes, incidents, and/or suspicious activity. It is your observation and willingness to help that makes a difference. Campus Safety and Security views a “false alarm” much more valuable than missing a real crime because someone didn’t think it was important to report. We need your help. If we don’t know or aren’t informed about crime, we can’t inform the community and shift our resources and/or patrols to high-risk areas. Please report all crimes!

All reports will be investigated by the appropriate authorities. Reports made to licensed counselors are exempt from reporting requirements, however, if and when they deem it appropriate, they may file voluntary, confidential reports with the Campus Safety and Security.

To report an incident that is not a life threatening situation or crime in progress to the Police Department, contact the Seattle Police Department’s Non-Emergency Line. For more information about your local Police Department including crime statistics and a link to file an online police report, please visit Seattle Police Department.

Property Protection

There are common-sense reminders for protecting your property. Crime prevention denies opportunity. Please remember and practice these tips at all times.

  • Never leave personal belongings unattended, whether in an office, classroom, library, or studio. Wallets, backpacks, and pocketbooks are prime targets for the “hit and run” thief. If you must leave belongings in your car, lock them out of sight in the trunk.
  • Even if you are going to be gone for “just a minute,” take your belongings with you.
  • Don’t leave large sums of money in your room.
  • Write down the serial numbers of all valuables (stereos, TVs, computers) and keep the list in a safe place. These are critical to property recovery.
  • Engrave your driver’s license number and the issuing state on all valuables, and make it is clearly visible.
  • Do not engrave valuables with your Social Security number. Those numbers are federally protected, and law enforcement agencies are unable to learn an owners identity if property is recovered.

Laptop & Electronics

When leaving your residence hall room, home or classroom, lock doors and windows even if you will be gone for just a minute. Never leave purses, wallets, or valuables exposed; store them out of sight.

Computers, especially if they are portable, are primary targets of theft. Be sure to record the serial number, brand name and description of all of your personal electronic devices. Consider the purchase of a locking device which will secure the computer to a desk. Do not leave unattended.

Bicycle & Vehicle Safety

When you leave your car, always remove the ignition key and lock all doors. Do not leave valuables in the car, but if you must, lock them in the trunk. When parking at night, park in well-lit, well-traveled areas.
Consider installing tamper-proof door lock buttons and/or a car alarm. Also consider using a lockable car cover.

Always lock your bike regardless of how long you plan to leave it unattended. We recommend a U-shaped locking system, since cables and chains can be easily cut. Secure or remove any bags or accessories that can be stolen, and lock your bike to campus provided bicycle parking only. Bicyclists may be ticketed for locking bikes in unauthorized locations.

Residence & Work Area Protection

Follow these tips to protect your belongings on and off campus.

Protection in On Campus Residences

  • Always lock your door! Even if you are stepping out of your apartment, studio, or office for just a minute. Lock Your Door. Nearly all residential burglaries occurring on campus involve entry through an unlocked (though often closed) door.
  • Be wary of bringing casual acquaintances to your room or home.
  • Take care of your keys. Don’t leave them in your “cubby” or other hiding place.
  • Close and lock all doors and windows. Even if you leave for a few minutes. Don’t leave an open invitation to crime.
  • Do not prop doors open. If you find a door open on campus, close it or report it to security.
  • Write down the serial numbers of all valuables (stereos, TVs, computers) and keep the list in a safe place. These are critical to property recovery.
  • Engrave your driver’s license number and the issuing state on all valuables, and make sure it is clearly visible.
  • Do not engrave valuables with your Social Security number. Those numbers are federally protected, and law enforcement agencies are unable to learn an owner’s identity if property is recovered.
  • Never leave your wallet, purse, studio equipment, art supplies, or any other valuables unattended! Practice one of the following safety practices. Lock it, hide it, or watch it.
  • Notify Campus Safety and Security immediately of any emergency, accident, criminal activity, suspicious person, or conditions.
  • If your on campus room has been burglarized or you suspect that something is missing, contact Campus Safety and Security. Do not touch anything. It is very important that you report all thefts, no matter how small, to Campus Safety and Security.
  • If you live in off campus housing, follow the same procedures, but call the Seattle Police Department at 911.

Protection in Off Campus Residences

  • Have a peephole installed.
  • Do not open your door unless you know who’s on the other side. Be aware of strangers seeking help. Offer to call the police for them, but do not let them in.
  • Use only your last name and first initial on doorbells/mailboxes or in the phone book.
  • Leave lights and a radio tuned to a talk-radio station on when not at home.
  • Ask the landlord to keep shrubbery away from doors and windows.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is the act of someone else taking information which personally identities someone else — a social security number, driver’s license, birth certificate, etc. Unfortunately, the person responsible for these charges is the victim himself and it can often take years to clear up the resulting problems.

The consequences of identity theft are dire. In most cases, the victim is left with a large amount of debt, and may be denied a job, loans for a house or car, and have their credit rating damaged irreparably. This is not a good way to start what should be the beginning of a new life after receiving a college education.

Why College Students are Particularly Vulnerable

In order for a thief to steal someone’s identity, they must first obtain the necessary information which allows them to “become” someone else, at least in the eyes of lending institutions and other financial companies. How easy this task is depends on how vigilant a person is about protecting their personal information.

More than half of all college students receive multiple pre-approved credit offers monthly. Those mass-mailed forms, usually partially filled out with the recipient’s information such as name, address, and other personal data is fantastic opportunity to steal a person’s identity.

If the recipient is not interested in the offer and simply throws away the form, it is one of the most common documents used by identity thieves. By picking the offer out of the trash can, the thief can then fill in the rest of the blanks and send it in or simply call the toll free phone number provided on the form, allowing them near instant access to one aspect of the victim’s identity.

Another manner in which identity theft occurs is when thieves get their hands on personal banking account information, such as a checking or savings account statement. Anyone who does not balance their account is at risk of incurring fraudulent charges, simply because they do not keep track of what charges are legitimate. Oftentimes, the thief steals by withdrawing money in small increments — not enough to stand out as a glaring error to the casual observer but enough to build up to a large amount over time.

Another danger to college students is their Social Security Number. Many college courses require a student to use their Social Security Number to log in to websites used to post homework assignments and other course communications. The university may also use that number as an identifying number in the administration office.

It is very easy to forget to exercise caution when using a Social Security Number, particularly when it is used so often. Lax computer security or evens something as simple as a criminal watching a student enter the number, allows a thief can quickly and easily gain access to the Social Security Number, which is the key to obtaining additional information about an individual.

Computers and laptops also pose a threat that many students don’t think about. Many students use a laptop every day in class to take notes and organize coursework documents. But what if that computer is stolen? What would a thief find inside?

Most students in today’s world use their computers to access online banking, pay bills, order merchandise, and communicate in just about every other aspect of their lives, too. If personal and account information is stored on the hard drive, the thief has instant access to to very information that makes it possible for them to assume the student’s identity.

Of course, students also shouldn’t overlook one of the most common ways to steal someone’s identity — stealing a wallet, purse, or backpack. This can even occur in the student’s dorm room, particularly if parties or unfamiliar guests are common, and they usually are in college dorms. Students should exercise the same security at home as in any unfamiliar environment.

How to Stay Safe from Identity Theft

The best way to deal with the prospect of identity theft is to avoid it by employing safe practices in everyday life. Here are some tips and best practices to prevent identity theft.

  • Shred all important documents, such as bank statements, credit card offers, and any pieces of paper which contain an account number or social security number. Remember prescription drug containers, too, as they usually have an account number and other personal information printed on the label.
  • Don’t let mail pile up and lay around where anyone could gain access to it. Be sure that anything which goes in the trash bin does not contain any usable information — shred or tear documents into small pieces if necessary.
  • Always log out of secure sites, such as online banking, before exiting the program. Also ensure your web browser does not save log in and password information associated with sensitive sites.
  • Never store personal information or username and password combinations on your computer’s hard drive. If you must write them down somewhere, make sure the document is stored in a safe location, such as lock box. But it’s best to memorize them no written record that could be compromised.
  • Use secure passwords which are not composed of obvious numbers such as date of birth, phone numbers, anniversaries, or addresses. Using a long string of numbers and letters in a random combination is best to avoid hacking.
  • Ensure that the web sites you use for buying merchandise or services are secure. Oftentimes, the URL will be preceded by https:// and it will bear the logo indicating a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.
  • Be wary of emails which are “phishing” for information, or trying to get you to respond to what looks like a legitimate site but redirects you to a thief’s site where your personal information will be recorded. Learn how to spot these phishing emails.
  • Be very careful in giving out your social security number. There are few instances when it is the only number you can use to access or open an account (even at the university). Use a driver’s license to prove identity and do not carry your social security card with you; instead keep in a safe place. The same applies to a student ID card, particularly if it contains your social security number.

What to Do If You Suspect You Have Become a Victim of Identity Theft

Not just an inconvenience or a detriment to your credit rating, identity theft is classified as a federal crime. According to the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998, it is a federal crime if someone “knowingly transfers or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person with the intent to commit, or to aid or abet, any unlawful activity that constitutes a violation of the Federal law, or that constitutes a felony under any applicable State or local law.”

If you suspect that you’re identity has been compromised, the first step is to notify all your financial institutions that may have been affected. Ensure that all accounts are closed immediately and ask that any new accounts be flagged for possible fraudulent charges in the future.

Next, notify your local law enforcement office of the crime. They will be able to advise you of further steps as well as begin an investigation. Also contact the three credit reporting bureaus and notify them of the theft of your identity. They can put a fraud alert in your file with a date so that charges occurring after this date will not negatively affect your credit rating.

The time spent going to college is, for most students, one of the best and most memorable periods in their life. Make sure it is not memorable, however, because of the trauma and suffering which result from the theft of your identity. Be vigilant about protecting your information and never assume that such a crime cannot happen to you. Chances are, there is already someone you know who has had it happen to them.