Welcome to the big bad world. They don’t call it that for nothing. As fun and exciting as varsity can be, it can also be mean and testy and threatening. It’s perfectly possible for you to make it through varsity unscathed, especially if you take Perdeby’s advice on how to make your student experience a fun but safe one. The following paragraphs might make the difference between an unforgettable year and one you’d rather forget. You’re welcome.

Dude, where’s my car?

You see that shiny new car your parents gave you? Yeah, you’re not the only one who likes it. While you were driving to campus singing along to One Direction, there was no shortage of people admiring your vehicle. Some people (the really ballsy and criminally inclined admirers) take it a step further by trying to take your car. It’s a statistical inevitability that you will meet, befriend or even be someone whose car gets stolen. But there are ways to lower the risk.

Parking is a challenge at Tuks, if you aren’t clever enough. You’re allowed to park anywhere outside campus for free. Eager car guards will usher you safely onto the shoulders of all the roads surrounding campus and they’ll shoot you a quick wink to reassure you that your car will be looked after. No problem, right? Wrong. More often than not, car guards will not remember the owner of a car. Some of them aren’t even in any official uniform and definitely can’t be held accountable for any stolen cars. In fact, there have been reports about certain car guards being in cahoots with car thieves. The majority of them are well meaning and sincere, but sometimes, paradoxically, your vehicle is safer without them.

Do not panic just yet. There are a few places that you can park your car without any worry of it being stolen. There’s a parkade for students that you can access via the University Road entrance (by the engineering side of life). Parking there isn’t free, but can you really put a price on peace of mind? If you’re not keen to pay, you’re going to have to work a little harder to get parking. You can park safely on LC de Villiers (Sport campus) and take a free shuttle to main campus. Also, there are secure parking lots on Herold, Lunnon and Festival Street that are also free, but are usually full by 9 am. See? Options.

The morning after the night before

It’s every girl’s worst nightmare: waking up in a strange bed feeling weird and without any memory of the previous night. You’re not sure if you got a little drunk and went home with some guy you had just met, or if you’ve suddenly become one of those horror stories we all shudder to hear about. You would be surprised how many times it turns out to be the second one. Date rape is one of the scariest dangers of partying. Lurking around our favourite spots to let loose are predators who are just waiting for us to drop our guard and take advantage. The only way to make sure that you’re never their victim is to be the most vigilant drunk that you can be (yes, it’s possible).

Your drink should be sealed when you buy it. Pay close attention to the bartender every time he opens a bottled beverage or fixes you one in a cup. Usually bartenders are not the enemy, but one can never be too safe. Strange smells and funny tastes should ring alarms, so do not carry on drinking if you sense something unusual about it. Finally, don’t party alone – you’ll need a buddy or two to take you home safely when you suspect that you’ve been roofied.

If it’s already the next morning and you’re not sure what happened last night but you have a bad feeling, act immediately. Student Health, located on main campus, has helpful staff who will be able to provide you with a rape kit and run all the important tests to make sure that you haven’t caught any diseases. Then go straight to the police and mime whatever you can from your memory in order to open a case because if it’s happened to you, chances are that it’s about to happen to someone else.

You will meet a tall dark stranger

For some reason, people are given to believe that Hatfield is a safe area. Compared to other areas in Pretoria, maybe. But this is still South Africa and people still think they are entitled to all your possessions. There are many reasons why you could be walking alone in Hatfield at night: a late night in the library, getting ditched at Hatfield Square by your friends or some false sense of bravado that precludes you from crime. The actual truth is that there is no real reason to walk alone at night. Ever.

If you find yourself in a situation where you might have to walk alone after dark, try to avoid it as much as possible. Stay where you are and call someone to come and pick you up – Google a cab company if you’re short on friends. Exhaust all your options before deciding to walk (because just standing around in the dark can also make you a target). There’s a Green Route that runs from main campus to Sport campus via South Street – incorporate that into your journey. The Green Route has a 24-hour security guard presence and very rarely does anyone get attacked on it. Conceal all valuables and try to look as inconspicuous as possible and stay calm and alert while you walk.

If someone does attempt to mug you, cooperate as much as you can. Do not fight back. Do not run if they have a gun. In fact, do not run at all until your attacker is a safe distance away from you. Always run towards a crowd or a well-lit area and try to draw as much attention to yourself as possible. And obviously, call the po-po.

Photo: Eleanor Harding

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