We Really Do Care
Now you have your college student moved in and they are ready to embark on a new independent life. As a parent, even if you are not a helicopter parent, it may be difficult to drive off. For me personally, while I miss my daughter immensely, I am also confident that I have given her the tools to succeed. The leash was loosened back in high school allowing her to make adult decisions while I was still around to offer my guidance. They are going to experiment perhaps staying out late or eating unhealthy foods, drinking and so forth. UF offers many safety nets if you have concerns that your student is having difficulty adjusting to life on their own. One of their newest initiatives is the U Matter We Care© campaign. The premise behind this initiative is that it is impossible for a large institution to know when someone needs help; therefore, it encourages basic kindness and helpfulness by offering the tools everyone needs to assist students in distress or contact those at the university who are specially trained to help.
U Matter, We Care© is an umbrella for care-related programs and resources for students and employees. The initiative includes a program to train people to recognize the signs of distress and to provide help. It also includes a website of care-related resources, as well as a centralized phone number 352-294-CARE (352-294-2273) and email address for those seeking help or wanting to help others.
Help for All
It includes links to report bias incidents, sexual violence, hazing, medical amnesty, self-help, substance abuse and suicide prevention. Click here for the main link for assistance. Not only should you bookmark it in the event you suspect your student is experiencing any of these signs of distress but your student should bookmark it as well. It includes reporting forms for dangerous students, disruptive students and troubled student as well.
U Matter We Care ©
Bottom line, UF is an enormous institution and programs such as the U Matter, We Care© initiative offers a safety net should students and/or any other caring person chooses to get involved. The first recommendation is to make sure you have their roommates contact information or a close friend.
Some of the specific discussions I had with my daughter before she left, while obvious, included always being with a friend and not putting themselves in a dangerous situation. As any campus police will tell you, crime is always based on opportunity so if you remove the opportunity, in most instances, you can exist safely on campus. That means never walking home alone, especially at night. As much as we would all like to believe that college towns are safe, there will always be criminals who take advantage of this general thought process. The university sends out alerts to the student for all criminal activity. I know some parents who subscribe to this service, but I would strongly encourage you to make sure your student subscribes as they are the ones living there. If you subscribe, you will only drive yourself crazy with worry for every alert sent out.
I would also make certain you have your student’s Find My Phone log in information. How I positioned it to my daughter was that if god forbid she went missing, a cell phone allows the police or anyone else to find out your student’s recent activity. I explained she could email it to me or give it to her sister, as long as I had it in an emergency. Of course, if the phone is shut down it does no service but it will give the most recent usage.
I have good friends who just sent their twin daughters off to college, the only children they have. One of her daughters went out and decided to sleep at another friend’s dorm. Unfortunately, her phone was dead. Her suitemate who doesn’t know her very well contacted another friend. Since neither one of them had heard from her, her one friend told her mom who proceeded to rush over early in the morning to the parents’ house and tell them, while they shouldn’t worry, their daughter was MIA. This set off a whole chain of events with the parents sick with fear that their daughter had been injured, attacked, and even worse. It was too soon to contact the police but the parents were ready to jump in their car and head up to the campus. The mom left her daughter a message on Facebook to call home and she did shortly. Meanwhile, the house was already filled with friends ready to spring into action. Her daughter explained that her phone had died and she slept at another friend’s dorm room. The lesson to be taken is that your student, whether they are close with their suitemate or not, should let them know if they are not going to be sleeping in the room. Sure sometimes it is not planned but social media is so prevalent that there is no reason to not let someone else know their whereabouts.