Violence: Realities and Risks

Violent crime is an unfortunate reality in the United States and college campuses are not immune. In the past ten years, murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults have been reported on college campuses across the nation. Campuses in the Rocky Mountain West may appear peaceful, but in reality they are small cities with many of the same problems of larger, more urban cities.

Thousands of people make safe trips across campus every day. Occasionally, however, an incident takes place in which a student or campus visitor doesn’t make a safe trip. How can you reduce your chances of becoming a victim? Consider the following suggestions in your day-to-day activities.

If You Live On Campus

It is advised not to prop doors open in any campus residence hall or apartment building. Students are encouraged to report suspicious activity.

If You Live Off Campus

If your neighborhood or apartment complex has rules for your safety—follow them. Also, keep your doors and windows locked, shades closed, exterior lights on, and report any suspicious activity.

If You Are in a Car

Keep doors locked at all times and have your keys in your hand before you reach your car. Think twice about giving strangers (hitchhikers) rides or accepting rides from strangers.

If You Are Walking

Stay in well-lit, well-traveled areas. If you are unsure about an area or concerned about your safety, for whatever reason, use CU NightRide (303-492-7233) or ask a friend to walk with you.

Alcohol and Violence

Many violent crimes on campus are committed by people who are under the influence of alcohol. Unfortunately, some of these criminals might be people you know and in most cases the victim has been using alcohol as well. Most of these situations can be avoided by doing the following:

  • Consider not drinking.
  • If you do drink, do it responsibly and legally.
  • Pay attention to what is going on with your friends. Don’t leave a friend behind if they have had too much to drink.
  • Remember that people—even close friends—who have had too much alcohol often use very poor judgment.

Although a clear “profile” of the potential perpetrators of campus violence has not been delineated, some risk factors and warning signs for violence have been identified. People who become violent often make their intentions known prior to acting on them. In addition, even when direct threats of violence are not made, perpetrators tend to exhibit behaviors that are disturbing to members of their community. Check the list below for more risk behaviors.

Risk Factors and Warning Signs for Violent Behavior

Please keep in mind that many individuals who pose no threat to their community may exhibit one or more of the behaviors listed below. Therefore, these factors should be considered within the context of your overall experience with a particular individual.

  • Prior violent behavior
  • Making direct, veiled, or conditional threats of violence
  • Making threats of harm to self
  • History of poor peer relationships
  • Noncompliance
  • Disrespectful/derogatory verbalizations and behaviors
  • Being disruptive of the living and learning environment
  • Fascination and preoccupation with violence, including pervasive violent content in completed course assignment or other writings
  • Difficulty controlling anger, managing frustration, or accepting limits
  • Preoccupation with violent role models
  • Fascination with and access to firearms
  • Abuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, and/or mood altering over-the-counter supplements, diet pills, or performance enhancers
  • A rapid deterioration of frustration tolerance and ability to think rationally or get along with others
  • Your own ongoing or escalating feelings of fear and/or concern about the individual’s behavior or state of mind

Recognizing the signs of potential violent behavior can help to prevent it.

What You Should Do

  • If you believe that you are in a situation of immediate danger on campus, call 911. For non-emergencies, call 303-492-6666.
  • Always take direct threats of harm to others (or to self) seriously and contact the authorities. The authorities will initiate a “threat assessment” regarding the behavior of a particular individual.
  • If you are unsure, but concerned about the possibility of a student posing a danger to others (or to self), please call Psychological Health at 303-492-5654, Counseling and Psychological Services at 303-492-6766, or CUPD at 303-492-6666 for consultation. These offices will recommend specific courses of action that you and/or other campus professionals can take in order to ascertain the level of threat for a particular individual.
  • Please keep in mind that with regards to potential acts of violence, it is always better to err on the side of caution by contacting one of the numbers listed here about your concerns.

View a printable PDF brochure of this information.