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Spring break is the ultimate time for college students to kick back, relax and enjoy time off from stressful schoolwork.
However, recently the U.S. Department of the State has issued a warning and alert to all those traveling abroad this spring break, particularly to Mexico, where violence has escalated due to criminal and drug cartel activity.
While most tourists enjoy their vacation without worry, there are still incidents of tourists being kidnapped, raped and even killed. Here are some tips to staying safe while on vacation.
CU Spokesman Bronson Hilliard said he wants students to remember some critical, yet simple tips to staying safe.
“Don’t go into unfamiliar places alone or even in small groups,” Hilliard said, “and don’t display your wealth.”
According to the U.S. Department of the State, displaying one’s wealth will only increase their chances of being robbed, or be in a worse situation such as being kidnapped or even killed.
Erin Ehlebracht, 20, a sophomore integrative physiology major, said she had friends of friends who were kidnapped in Cancun.
“They were found and everything,” Ehlebrachd said, “but it’s definitely scary.”
It is also smart for students to always be aware of their surroundings, and always have a cell phone handy.
“Communication is really important,” Hilliard said. “Never go anywhere without telling someone where you are going. It’s not a good idea to just split town and not tell anyone [where you’re going].”
While some students travel abroad for their fun in the sun, a lot of students travel within the United States and Colorado. According to Hilliard, these same safety tips apply wherever you go.
“No matter where you’re going, if you’re road tripping to Las Vegas, if you’re going to Mexico, if you’re going to South Padre Island… regardless of your destination many of those safety tips apply,” Hilliard said.
For those leaving the Boulder city limits, it is important to leave their house, apartment or dorm room locked and secured. Victoria Garcia, 22, a communications major and UCSU Tri-Exec said she is heading to the Sand Dunes for spring break.
“Luckily I have roommates who will be home during spring break, so I won’t have to worry about someone picking up the paper or keeping an eye on the place,” Garcia said.
Hilliard said he is an advocate of leaving a light on when all are away from home as well.
“Lock up, leave some lights on,” Hilliard said, “I know it’s politically incorrect, but it is safer.”
Samantha McKinley, a sophomore majoring in elementary education visiting from Eastern Illinois University, said that she left her dorm room in a safe way.
“I hid all my valuables and made sure the doors and window was locked,” McKinley said.
Hilliard recommended recruiting a trusted friend to watch over the apartment or house that is vacant for spring break. They should pick up mail and newspaper and occasionally drive by and check on the place.
Wherever students go on spring break, on top of keeping themselves safe, they should keep the University of Colorado Code of Conduct with them.
“Represent yourself and your university and your nation with honor and also recognize you’re an ambassador,” Hilliard said. “Represent with honor and distinction. The University of Colorado code of conduct follows you wherever you go.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Taylor Coughlin at Taylor.Coughlin@Colorado.edu