Public Safety

When to Contact Public Safety

Columbia Public Safety can be contacted at any time by dialing the campus Emergency Number at 212-854-5555. They should be notified in the following circumstances:

  • If suspicious persons, activities, or incidents are witnessed anywhere on campus.
  • If residents are assaulted.
  • If a resident’s room has been broken into in any way.
  • If any of a resident’s property is stolen or vandalized.
  • If a resident’s room key has been stolen.
  • If a fire occurs.
  • If residents witness any of the above, of for any other safety concerns.

Public Safety can contact Columbia University Emergency Medical Service (CU-EMS) if necessary and will inform the resident’s RA and Residential Life staff of the situation at an appropriate time. For less urgent situations, residents may contact Public Safety or their RA directly. Except for holidays and intersession periods, an RA will be on duty in the residence halls each night between 9:00pm and 8:00am. RA on-duty contact information is posted at building security desks or in the lobbies of the residence halls. RA on-duty phone numbers are also posted here on the Columbia Housing website.

General Safety Guidelines

Inside the Residence Halls

  • Keep personal room and suite doors locked at all times.
  • Do not sign anyone into residence halls who you do not know or who will not be in the resident’s company at all times. Remember that residents are responsible for anyone they sign in.
  • Never open doors to strangers. If a stranger asks to make a phone call, refer them to the hall phone, or in an emergency to the nearest RA. If the person persists or tries to gain entry, contact Public Safety.
  • Avoid keeping large amounts of cash or valuables in residence hall rooms.
  • Stairs should not be used when a resident feels threatened or as a means to escape pursuers or potential attackers. Go to an area where other people are present instead.
  • Never give out private information to strangers over the telephone. This includes personal voicemail greeting. If a resident is the victim of telephone harassment, report it to Public Safety or Residence Hall Director (RHD).

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Outside the Residence Halls

  • If residents feel that they are being followed, cross the street and remain alert.
  • Avoid walking near dark doorways, abandoned buildings, or other locations where someone could be hiding. Avoid shortcuts and stay in well-lit areas.
  • If a vehicle stops and the occupant asks for directions, remain on the sidewalk and do not approach the car.
  • When arriving home by private vehicle or taxi, residents should ask the driver to wait until they are safely on campus grounds, and preferably inside residence halls.
  • Have keys in hand so that doors can be opened quickly.
  • For more safety and crime prevention tips, see the Crime Prevention and Safety page on the Columbia Public Safety website.

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Elevator Safety

  • Before entering an elevator, check to see who is inside. If residents do not feel comfortable, wait for the next elevator.
  • Never tamper with or abuse any of the equipment or controls.
  • Never pry open doors or hold them open by the safety edges.
  • Never exceed the capacity posted in the elevator car.
  • Should an elevator stop between floors, use the emergency phone located in the elevator car; it will provide direct access to Public Safety. They will give residents proper instructions on how to proceed.
  • Never attempt to exit an elevator that is stuck between floors without directions and assistance from emergency personnel.
  • Report elevator malfunctions to 212-854-2779. Specify the elevator location, the nature of the problem, and the number of passengers in the elevator.
  • Never use elevators in a fire.

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Personal Safety

In the event of an emergency, call 212-854-5555. Utilize campus Public Safety services to prevent criminal activities on and around campus. If residents are assaulted, they should remain calm, and should not try to resist or overcome the suspect. Residents should try to get a good description of the perpetrator. Report the crime immediately to Public Safety for assistance.

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