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Dorm Room and College Safety for Students: Are Colleges Doing Enough?

Now that students are back in class and settled into their school years, it’s time to focus on safety. In Gainesville, University of Florida students are concerned following attacks on four female students earlier this school year. Students living on-campus and off-campus are being told to be more aware of their surroundings and to use extra precautions.

Students who are injured in assault cases in Miami and other Florida cities may have the option to seek a legal claim against the perpetrator or the owner of the property where the attack took place. This and concern for students has made university campuses more aware of the steps that can be taken to help prevent assault and injuries. The University of Florida, for example, offers:

  • Security staff patrols, including stepped-up patrols when attacks occur
  • Walk-home programs for students
  • Educational materials emphasizing personal safety and listing local resources
  • Outreach with apartment complexes near campuses, to help keep off-campus students safe
  • Roving dorm patrols

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How effective are these steps in helping to prevent attacks? One problem that campuses face is that most colleges are fairly open public communities, with thousands of students. In addition, some students live off campus. It is very difficult to keep members of the public from entering campus property and buildings, since students need access to these spaces as well. In addition, most campuses are large and most colleges say they cannot post security staff at all entrances and in all dorms.

The problem becomes even greater when perpetrators of rape or assault and battery in Miami and other campuses are fellow students. Early this school year, a student in New York City started carrying her dorm room mattress with her everywhere she went to protest the way that her school handled her rape complaint. The student alleged that when she filed a complaint after being assaulted by a fellow student, she was upset that the student was not suspended and was allowed to remain on campus.

What more can colleges do to prevent violence and injury? There are a few options:

  • Hire more security staff
  • Offer more programs to accompany students to remote areas after dark
  • Re-enforce dorm room windows and doors
  • Install self-locking dorm doors so that they cannot be left open by mistake
  • Take complaints of rape and assault seriously, removing students who harm others
  • Install better lighting on campus
  • Create well-lit and well-patrolled main walkways from main campus buildings to dorm areas
  • Install emergency call buttons around campus
  • Provide advocacy and support for those injured by violence

When colleges do not take adequate steps to keep students safe, they can be held liable if students are injured. Those affected by an assault or other violence can seek compensation for medical costs, lost income, and other losses.

If you need legal advice after being injured, do not hesitate to contact Flaxman Law Group at any time. Our law firm offers a range of services and resources to help those who are injured in South Florida. We even offer a free initial consultation, so that you can speak with one of our personal injury attorneys with no cost and no obligation.