International student and scholar safety
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is fortunate to have a diverse community of students and scholars from all over the world. Many of our international students and scholars face unique safety challenges while they are here on campus, and we are here to help you navigate those as best we can.
Here are answers to some common questions we receive:
Is our campus safe?
We have a very safe campus, but crime affects every community. Although crime is relatively infrequent on our campus, you should use the resources we have made available to inform yourself about public safety issues so you have all the information you need to keep yourself and others safe. Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, and do not hesitate to call 911 if you are ever uncomfortable or worried about your own or someone else’s safety.
How can I report a safety issue?
You can report safety issues by calling 911 for emergencies or 217-333-1216 for a non-emergency. If you are unsure of whether the situation is an emergency or a non-emergency, call 911. In many cases, a police officer will be sent to help you depending on the situation. A police officer or other first responder will generally be nearby and available to respond immediately, especially in emergency situations. Police response may take slightly longer in a non-emergency situation, but we will still get to you as quickly as possible.
You can also contact police by using any of the emergency phones located around campus. Many of the emergency phones are equipped with a bright blue light for visibility. By activating the phone, you will be connected to the front desk of the University of Illinois Police Department who will be able to see your location when the call is placed. That police representative will assist you as appropriate for the situation.
You can also report non-emergency issues anonymously to Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-8477, http://373tips.com or by downloading the P3 Tips mobile app available on iOS or Android. This reporting method is for non-emergencies when you know something about a crime but want to remain anonymous. This service is not for emergencies. If you are reporting a crime in progress, it is important that you call 911.
In some cases, there may be a language barrier which makes it difficult to communicate. That is OK. Police officers are trained for many different situations and will find a way to communicate with you. Especially on a college campus like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, our officers encounter this kind of situation frequently and will know what to do.
If you are uncomfortable speaking with a male officer, you may request to speak with a female officer. Police in Champaign County will not inquire about your immigration status and will not enforce immigration laws unless a judge specifically requires us to do so.
When should I call 911?
You should call 911 whenever you are worried about your own or someone else’s safety or well-being. You should also call 911 if you are experiencing any kind of emergency or you have just witnessed a crime. Some people may hesitate to call 911 because they worry about bothering the police, but it is important that you call if you have any concerns. Do not worry about bothering us. We are here to help you with many different kinds of issues.
When you call 911, the person on the other end of the line will ask you a series of questions about what kind of help you need, where you are and what you saw. It helps to have specific details like a description of what an offender looks like, what they are wearing or license plate numbers of cars that may have been involved. While helpful, this information is not necessary to call 911. We will help you regardless of how much information you may or may not have.
What is the University of Illinois Police Department doing to keep campus safe?
We have a number of police officers patrolling our campus, and we work very closely with the Champaign Police Department, Urbana Police Department, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois State Police to add to the number of officers patrolling campus. Between those various police agencies, our campus is the most densely-patrolled area in our region.
Additionally, our campus has a network of almost 1,700 security cameras designed to deter crime and help us identify offenders when crime occurs. These cameras are very useful in identifying and arresting people who commit crimes.
While the police do a lot to prevent crime, the most important crime prevention tool is looking out for yourself and others. Always be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, do not walk alone at night and lock away your personal belongings. These tips can greatly reduce your risk of being targeted by a criminal. The university provides a number of opportunities to learn more about campus safety and what you can do to protect yourself and others – we encourage you to explore the safety services and programs we offer.
What kind of safety services should I be aware of?
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides a large number of safety services for all students and scholars. The University of Illinois Police Department is a full-service police department which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers are available to assist you whenever you need help or are worried about your safety.
The police department also offers SafeWalks escorts to travel safely at night, self-defense classes and safety presentations for students groups on a number of topics. You can learn more about these and other programs at http://police.illinois.edu/safety.
Additionally, the university provides a large number of resources related to sexual assault, sexual abuse, dating or domestic violence and other issues. University or police officials can help you report sexual assault or abuse, as well as help protect you from someone who may act violent toward you. Many of these services are confidential. More information is available at http://wecare.illinois.edu.
Many college students may experience issues associated with stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health conditions. The Counseling Center provides completely confidential services offered by trained mental health professionals. To learn how the Counseling Center may be able to assist you or to request counseling services, visit http://counselingcenter.illinois.edu.
There may be other programs available to assist you with your needs. If you have a specific problem, International Student and Scholar Services may be able to help or direct you to the best resource. Visit http://isss.illinois.edu for more information.
How can I identify a police officer?
It is a crime in the United States to pretend to be a police officer, but it does happen. It is not uncommon for some students to receive a phone call from someone pretending to be a police officer, a tax agent, an immigration agent or another government official.
If someone tells you they are a police officer or another government official, you have the right to ask them to prove their identity to you. If you have concerns, you may also call that person’s police department or agency to confirm their identity. No legitimate police officer or government official would discourage you from confirming their identity. Additionally, police officers will never demand money from you. Police in Champaign-Urbana will never ask you about your immigration status.
All police officers in Champaign County have badge numbers, and they will provide that badge number to you upon request. You can call the police department to confirm the badge number matches with who the officer says they are.
The United States has a culture of asking questions. It is perfectly acceptable to question a police officer’s identity and actions if you have concerns. Our police officers expect this, and they will answer your questions respectfully to the extent that it does not interfere with an ongoing investigation.
Is it safe to take rides with taxi companies or rideshare services like Uber?
Licensed taxi services and well-reputed rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are very safe. However, there is always at least a small degree of risk to accepting a ride from someone whom you have never met. Make sure to confirm that the identity of the driver matches with the service from which you have requested a ride. If you do not feel comfortable accepting the ride, it is OK to decline or cancel the request for a ride. If you have additional concerns, you can call the police.
What kind of safety orientation is provided?
For many new students, safety orientation begins prior to their arrival in the United States. University officials travel to select cities outside the U.S. during the summer before students’ freshman year to discuss a variety of issues important to attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Campus safety is one of these important topics. During that orientation, the presenters tell new students about some of the safety risks they may encounter and the services available to keep them safe.
Following that in-country orientation, the university also provides a new international student orientation on campus and a resource area at check-in. The University of Illinois Police Department and International Students and Scholar Services offers a series of sessions during the first week of classes specifically to discuss campus safety and how to avoid becoming the target of a scam.
Additionally, the University of Illinois Police Department works hard to keep campus community members aware of public safety issues and to advertise and remind them about the services available. If you are part of a student group or organization, then it is very likely that you will be invited to attend a safety presentation. It is a good idea to attend those sessions, as they include valuable information to keep you safe.
The University of Illinois Police Department has issued these safety advisories which relate specifically to the safety and well-being of international students and scholars on our campus:
- Scam alert: Students advised not to pay strangers with Venmo (March 5, 2018)
- UIPD clarifies role in immigration enforcement (Feb. 2, 2017)
- Police warn against phone, internet scams (Sept. 12, 2016)