Tips for new students and families
Each year, incoming students and their families have important questions about safety and security on campus. The following information covers some of the most popular topics.
Bikes are extremely popular at the UO, and are a great way to get around campus and experience the City of Eugene and Lane County. But bike theft is also a reality. Students can protect their bike with a few simple steps:
- Don’t bring a super-expensive bike to campus. It will attract theft attempts, and even the best locks and security can be defeated by a determined thief.
- Register your bike with UO Parking and Transportation. It’s required for all bikes on campus, it can deter thieves, and it can help recover a stolen bike. Registration is free and very easy with the 529 Garage system in use at the UO.
- Lock up your bike. Use a quality U-shaped lock (available at any bike shop or department store, or from the UO Parking and Transportation office). Don’t use cable or chain locks, they can be easily snipped with bolt cutters. Consider using a second lock if the primary one can’t connect the frame and both wheels to the bike rack. Thieves will use quick-release levers to steal wheels.
- Take accessories with you. Don’t leave bags, expensive lights, or other accessories on the bike; thieves may take anything that looks worth a moment of their time.
- Help defeat and prevent theft. Report suspicious activity immediately to UOPD at 541-346-2919. Most bike thieves rely on people ignoring them; UOPD patrols are in the area, and can respond right away to a theft in progress. If you see someone "casing" a bike rack and checking different bikes and locks, or riding up on one bike and removing a wheel of a different bike, or if you see someone using a saw or bolt-cutters, call UOPD dispatch and tell them what you see and where it’s happening.
Learn more from the Parking and Transportation website.
Laptop & Device Registration
Register your electronic device, such as a laptop computer, with UOPD. This can help recover your device if it is lost or stolen.
UOPD also recommends enabling a manufacturer or third-party tracking application for your device, that can also aid in recovery. We also encourage you to password-protect your device with a strong password, and to regularly BACK UP your important data. Device loss and theft happens, but you can still preserve your important academic and personal information with some advance planning.
Campus Crime Information
Curious about crime on or around campus? Learn more: read the annual Clery Act report and past campus crime alerts, or view the crime log.
Personal Defense Classes
Once each term, UOPD offers a free workshop class for female students, "Rape Aggression Defense," (RAD). The two-day course covers philosophy and hands-on practice of self-defense, taught by certified instructors from the police department.
Also, the UO Physical Education and Recreation Department offers a large selection of credit courses in different forms of self-defense. Find them in the UO Course Catalog under the "PEMA" subject code (Physical Education: Martial Arts).
Students who feel uncomfortable getting around alone have options at the UO.
- Request a free safety escort from UOPD at 541-346-2919, anytime, 24 hours per day. Dispatch will send a security assistant, security officer or police officer to walk you from any campus location to any other campus location (such as from the library back to the residence halls after a late study session).
- For longer trips that go off-campus, use ASUO Safe Ride, a van transportation service for students paid for with their student fees. ASUO is the "Associated Students of the University of Oregon," the student government organization at the UO. Schedule a ride in advance at 541-346-RIDE.
Personal Protection Devices
Firearms may not be legally carried on UO properties, even by those with concealed-carry permits. Other common personal protection items such as pepper spray, stun devices, small batons, small single-edged folding knives, etc., may be carried but must not be misused. Oregon law forbids the concealed carry of many types of weapons (see ORS 166.220 and ORS 166.240).
Anyone choosing to carry protection devices should not do so lightly, and carefully consider the following:
- Know how to use the device effectively, and be prepared to use it if needed.
- Don’t overestimate the impact your device may have. Some individuals can withstand even police-grade pepper spray or stun guns. A consumer-grade device may not disable an attacker, and the individual may respond with greater violence.
- Any device used against an attacker could be taken from you and used against you.
- If you use such a device on another person, be prepared to explain to authorities why it was used and how your physical safety was immediately and seriously threatened.
Minors and Controlled Substances
Some college students will choose to try controlled substances, even when they are underage or even if the substance is illegal. Substance laws exist for a reason: the substances themselves are harmful to health, they impair decision-making and physical control, and a person under the influence is more likely to become the victim or perpetrator of a crime or accident.
The UO upholds substance laws as part of its community standards and expectations, and the UOPD and neighboring Eugene Police Department also enforce these laws.
In the State of Oregon, the body is considered a container, and someone who has been consuming alcohol is considered to be "in possession" of it, even if the person isn’t carrying a container with alcohol. The age of majority in Oregon is 21.
On campus, underage people found to be in possession of alcohol may be issued a citation for Minor In Possession, but most often, students in this situation are referred to the UO Office of Student Conduct for education and correction. Students who have multiple offenses (i.e. they have not taken advantage of their learning experience) or who engage in other related illegal conduct may be cited.
Off campus, where the Eugene Police Department patrols and responds, underage individuals are more likely to receive a citation for Minor In Possession. Eugene Police also respond seriously to large parties in residential neighborhoods, and besides citing the organizers of the event and the residents of the dwelling, the attendees may also be cited.
Students would be wise to be respectful and compliant if in this situation with Eugene Police off-campus. Do not run. Do not give a false name. Do not refuse lawful orders to stop, sit, disperse, open a door, etc. These behaviors will usually just make a situation much worse, and some students have seriously hurt themselves on fences, trees, roofs, balconies, etc., in trying ill-advised escapes from a party that has been visited by police.
The State of Oregon has an "amnesty" law that ensures that underage people who seek medical help for themselves or another will not be cited for Minor in Possession. Health and well-being is most important, and students should always seek medical help if a person is extremely sick, or unresponsive. UOPD often responds to calls of individuals impaired by substance use, and the priority is to make sure the person is medically cared for. Students will still be referred to the Office of Student Conduct, because of the need to correct the student’s dangerous, high-risk behavior.
The State of Oregon on July 1, 2015, legalized recreational marijuana possession and use for those 21 and older, in private residences only. As a federally funded institution, the UO still abides by federal law, which classifies marijuana as an illegal substance. Marijuana may not be possessed on any UO-owned or -controlled property. Off-campus, it is still illegal to possess or use for those younger than 21, and illegal to use in public areas (which includes parks, publicly-visible or accessible front yards or porches, and common areas in apartments like hallways or lobbies).
If a student believes that he or she is being treated illegally or unfairly by police, the best course of action is to be cooperative and respectful, but to ask for the officer’s name or badge number, and at an appropriate time, make careful notes of what happened, along with the time and location. Then use that information to make a complaint. Make sure to properly note which agency it is; uniforms may look similar, but there are several law enforcement agencies operating in the area, including UOPD, Eugene Police, Springfield Police, Lane County Sheriffs, Oregon State Police, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
The UOPD has a complaint process, and there are many other avenues informally and formally at the university to have a grievance heard. Dealing with an officer in the field is not the time to try your case.
University of Oregon police have body-worn cameras, car-mounted cameras, and audio recorders to collect evidence of encounters. So most likely, there will be a record of the incident that can show department investigators if the officer behaved inappropriately or illegally.
UOPD takes officer conduct very seriously, and expects its officers to be professional at all times, and to follow the law and department policies. UOPD leadership wants to know about deviations from these expectations, to correct and improve service and performance.
It is legal to video-record police officers conducting their duties in public, but keep a safe distance so as not to interfere with police business or pose a threat to an officer. Again, follow any directions from officers; if there is disagreement or doubt about an officer’s directives or action, that can be resolved or corrected if necessary later, after an incident is safely over.