Personal Safety

WashU is committed to keeping our community safe and dedicates time, staff and resources to enhancing security wherever we can.

Personal Safety Resources

It’s important for all of us to do our part to be aware, stay informed and make smart choices when it comes to our own personal safety.

Resources from Washington University Police Department (WUPD)

Shuttles from parking and transportation

Read about the university’s approach to on- and off-campus safety.

Ride the shuttles, follow our emergency communications, pay attention to your surroundings, and report suspicious activity to WUPD (314-935-5555) or the local law enforcement agency where you are (dial 9-1-1). Additional information about safety and preparedness is available on the WUPD website.

Neighborhood Partnerships

WUPD officers and the WUPD bike patrol unit patrol nearby neighborhoods, and WashU also stations security guards in neighborhoods. WUPD has a community engagement officer focused on assisting students and community members living in off-campus neighborhoods with crime prevention, incident follow-up and personal safety. In addition to these efforts, WashU partners with law enforcement and residents in local jurisdictions to evaluate and respond to safety and security needs in the neighborhoods.

Emergency Communication

In the event of an emergency or serious crime, we notify members of the university community through our communications protocol and a number of communications tools. These can include text messages, email, phone calls, sirens, and a variety of other channels. The Danforth Campus community may “opt in” to messages about activity on or near the Medical Campus, and vice versa. You can learn more and sign up to receive notifications at

Know Your On and Off-Campus Resources

WashU itself is generally safe, but you have to be aware that it is an open campus and risks of petty theft and other crimes remain. For your safety and protection, it is important that you know what to do in case of an emergency and what resources are available to you.

Blue Light System:

The blue light emergency telephone system is a series of highly visible telephones strategically located throughout the Danforth Campus and extending into areas of university-owned off-campus housing. The telephones off campus have a direct link to the local police serving that area; on campus they connect directly to the Washington University Police Department. Pushing the red button connects the caller directly to the university police dispatcher. The dispatcher knows the exact location of the telephone and will send help immediately, even if the caller cannot speak.

Find safety tips and resources on the WUPD website.

Keep Important Papers and Valuables Safe

Whether you are traveling alone or in a group, it is always advisable to keep all your valuable items near you and zipped up. Petty theft can happen anywhere but is greatly reduced when your items are attached to your body. When you first arrive on campus it is wise to store important information like your address and phone number in your phone and written on a piece paper (In case your phone battery dies).

Items you should carry with you:

  • Photocopy of your passport (for international students)
  • Your health insurance card
  • Your Missouri driver’s license or nondriver identification
  • Your WashU ID

Items you should keep in a safe location and not carry with you:

  • Your Social Security card
  • Your passport and other visa status documents
  • Copy of your Debit/Credit Card(s) information [If your card(s) are lost or stolen, having a copy of the numbers in a safe place will be helpful with locking or canceling your card(s)]

Be Aware of Your Daily Routes and Routines

When traveling, it is always better to travel in a group or “buddy system”. At WashU, there are several different transportation options available at all our campus locations. When you first arrive to school, it is a good idea to learn which routes you will take daily to and from classes and which transportation options are available to you.

In the event that you do not feel safe to commute from class to your car or home, alternative transportation options do exist. Familiarizing yourself with these different options will help you be more prepared should an emergency strike. Some of WashU’s transportation support services include:

Safe Transit while off campus:

Washington University in St. Louis and its surrounding neighborhoods offer many opportunities for entertainment, dining and off-campus living. Getting off campus and exploring is a great part of the study abroad experience. However, students should always be aware of their surroundings and observe general safety precautions. When venturing out, you should first check online reviews about the location and event/venue you are planning to attend. Familiarizing yourself with the area and letting others know when and where you are planning to go is an important part in staying safe.

Living in an Urban Area:

As a student living in a new urban environment, taking certain precautions can help reduce your risk of falling victim to crime or theft.

  1. Locked Windows and Doors – The only way to reduce the risk of an intruder or theft is to keep all your windows and doors locked to your house and car. You should also plan to keep valuable items or items that could look valuable out of sight. For example, do not leave your gym bag laying in the back seat of your car. A thief does not know this is a gym bag and could break into your car with hopes that it has valuables in it.
  2. Answering the door or rolling down your car window to strangers – Do not answer the door for strangers. In the U.S. it is not uncommon for individuals to talk through a closed door or car window when approached by someone they do not know. It is not rude to ask the person who they are or find out what they need before you decide it is a safe situation. Even if it is a police officer, it is okay to first ask the officer to identify themselves with a proper ID/badge before you open the door or window.
  3. Cash or Valuables in Public – It is never a good idea to display cash or valuables in public. You should keep these items stored away and only bring out the amount of cash that you need. Flashing cash or valuables around could make you more susceptible to theft or other crimes.
  4. Panhandling – You might come across someone who asks you for money. This is called panhandling and in many areas, it is illegal. For safety reasons, WUPD advises students to not give money to panhandlers.

Beware of Scams

A scam is a fraudulent, dishonest or deceptive program, business or offer. Learn more about scams and schemes.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is a crime that occurs when your personal information (such as your name, date of birth or Social Security number) is stolen and used without your knowledge. To learn more about identity theft and to learn how to protect yourself, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.

Online or Electronic/Phone Targeting Scams

Unfortunately, international students become easy targets of online and telephone scams. Often, scammers will call students posing as “U.S. or Immigration Officials” and use scare tactics to get students to give up personal information (i.e., Social Security number, home address, credit card numbers, etc.) or send money. Often, these scammers will have personal details about you such as which school you attend and that you are an international student. They will also make it sound like you will be in trouble if you do not immediately give them money or your personal information. All of this can sound very scary and convincing. But, you should never give out your personal information over the phone to callers you do not know. Should you be targeted by one of these types of scams contact the OISS office immediately and your adviser can help you determine the validity of the call.

Tax Scams

We have seen an increase of scam calls or emails regarding taxes, so we’ve compiled some tips for avoiding tax scams.

Housing Scams

More information to stay safe can be found on our pages about housing scams and looking out for scams.

Sexual Assault & Relationship Abuse

WashU is committed to having a positive learning and working environment for its students, faculty and staff, and will not tolerate sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that violates university policy. It is also illegal under state and federal law. WashU is a GreenDot campus and believes it is the responsibility of the whole community to promote safety and the intolerance of sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

The University Policy on Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention is available to help clarify this important topic.

What is acceptable in one culture may not be acceptable in others. The university’s goal is to provide a welcoming and safe environment and to ensure that community members know what resources are available to them. Therefore, it is important that you understand the definitions of sexual harassment and sexual violence.

WashU encourages victims of sexual harassment and violence to file police reports. Reports may be filed confidentially or non-confidentially. Go to relationship and sexual violence resources for more information about reporting procedures and your rights.