Most students living off-campus rent apartments or group houses and as a consequence, live in group-living situations somewhat similar to residence hall life on campus. As with residence hall living, two of the major concerns in off-campus housing are security breaches and life safety hazards. However, since off-campus residents are without GW University Police personnel and residence hall staff, they must bear greater responsibility for their own safety. If you are an off-campus resident, you must be much more aware of possible dangers than those who live on campus.

Personal Safety

Living in a city can offer residents tremendous opportunities and resources, but also provide some challenges regarding personal safety.  Just as in any city, residents of the District of Columbia should take precautions to ensure their safety in the District. Among other things, you should:

  1. Always carry a form of personal identification with you. This is particularly important in Washington, DC because of the amount of federal and local security that is utilized in the District.
  2. Be wary of isolated spots—laundry rooms, underground garages, parking lots, offices after business hours. Walk with a friend, co-worker, or security guard, particularly at night.
  3. Always keep jewelry and other valuables out of sight.
  4. Keep a firm grip on your purse. Use a purse with a secure clasp, and keep the purse close to your body with a hand on the clasp.
  5. Carry your wallet inside your coat or side pants pocket, never in your rear pants pocket.
  6. Park your car in busy, lighted areas.
  7. Always lock your car and take the key with you. Consider using an anti-theft device for your car.
  8. Be aware of your surroundings when using the ATM machine. Look around before conducting a transaction. If you see anyone or anything suspicious, cancel your transaction and go to another ATM. If you must use an ATM after hours, make sure it’s well-lit.
  9. Wherever you are, stay alert and tuned in to your surroundings—on the street, in an office building or shopping mall, driving, waiting for a bus or subway.
  10. Trust your instincts. If something or someone makes you uneasy, avoid the person or leave.
  11. Know the neighborhoods where you live and work. Check out the locations of police and fire stations, public telephones, hospitals, and restaurants, or stores that are open late.
  12. Never open your door to strangers. Offer to make an emergency call while someone waits outside. Check the identification of sales or service people before letting them in. Don’t be embarrassed to phone for verification.
  13. Know your neighbors, so you have someone to call or go to if you’re uncomfortable or frightened.
  14. If you come home and see a door or window open, or broken, don’t go in. Call the police from a cell phone.