Two Female Students: One Dead, One Missing

Could campus safety measures have helped?

Hannah Graham was last seen on Saturday, September 13th outside a gas station in Charlottesville Virginia. The security tape showed Graham walking, then running away. A little while before, the UVA student spoke to a man outside a pub and sent a text message to her friends that she was lost. She still hasn't been found.

News broke today that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Jesse Matthew, a man the police believe was the last person to have contact with Hannah Graham before her disappearance.

Unfortunately, Graham was not the only college student in the headlines today. Rutgers student, Caitlyn Kovacs died early Sunday morning after passing out at a New Jersey frat house. Authorities say the incident may have been alcohol-related, a factor that may have also come into play in Graham's disappearance as well.

Hannah Graham is the fifth girl to go missing in Charlottesville in the last five years, and Kovacs is not the first to encounter trouble at a fraternity house. See below for the top 5 ways to protect yourself and stay safe while at college:

1. Don't walk home alone. Seriously, this is just the worst thing you can do. There really is strength in numbers. Buddy up with a friend or roommate when you're leaving a party for a nighttime walk across campus. If no one wants to leave with you, call your campus security (some offer safe walks home) or make sure that there is always one person who can be the designated companion home. Better yet, if your campus doesn't offer a safe way home, start a student-run organization that offers one.

2. Stay alert. Many are quick to reach for their phones so they have someone to chat with on a long walk home. Really, that's just distracting from a threat that may be lurking. Launch a safety app and lose the earbuds and wait until you're home safe to make the call.

3. Be aware of what you drink. It's your prerogative to knock back however many drinks you want (but if you're looking to avoid a nasty hangover, best to keep it in moderation). No matter how much you drink, however, be mindful of who poured it, what's in it, and if anyone came into contact with it. There are devices like bracelets and nail polish out there can easily detect if your drink has been drugged. If you're nervous, pour it out. Your beverage is replaceable, your life isn't.

4. Keep your school's public safety department in your contacts. In the event that something does go wrong, they're a couple taps rather than a more time-consuming Google search away. If you're really panicked, dial 911. It's always better to be safe than sorry. We'd rather have a phone call home to mom and dad about being a bit tipsy, than a phone call home to mom and dad from the police department notifying them that you're missing.

5. Communicate. Tell a friend who is staying in where you're headed and text her your route before you head home. If he or she knows when to expect you back, they'll get an early indication if something goes awry.


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