A guide for staying safe at Penn State Harrisburg

Information and resources to help the Penn State Harrisburg community stay safe this academic year
students walking across Penn State Harrisburg campus
Credit: Sharon Siegfried

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — As a new semester begins at Penn State Harrisburg, students and other campus community members are reminded that many resources and services are available to help them stay safe as they study and enjoy campus life. Below are some tips for staying safe on campus.

Know who to contact

In an emergency, students and other campus community members should always dial 911.

The Penn State Harrisburg Police non-emergency line can be reached at 717-948-6232. The office, located in the north entrance of the Susquehanna Building, is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Students can report a crime by calling 911 or calling Penn State Harrisburg Police. Reports can also be filed online.

Non-criminal safety concerns can be reported online here to be reviewed by Penn State Harrisburg’s Safety Committee.

Anyone who feels that a member of the campus community is showing behavior that is aggressive, disruptive, dangerous or threatening to the health and safety of themselves or others should contact the Behavioral Threat Management Team. Information on how to make a report can be found on the Behavioral Threat Management Team website at btmt.psu.edu.

Emergency phones are also located throughout campus and connect the caller to the Dauphin County 911 Emergency Dispatch Center.

The emergency phones can be found on poles, topped by a blue light, or in elevators or hallways as a callbox. The locations of these phones can be found on the online campus map.

More information on a variety of safety topics can be found on the University Police and Public Safety webpage. The Penn State Student Affairs website also contains information on how to report various types of incidents and student concerns.

Sign up for emergency alerts

The PSUAlert system is used to notify students, faculty and staff of emergency or dangerous situations, as well as events that affect the campus’ ability to operate normally, such as inclement weather.

To make changes to your account, visit the PSU Alert homepage, click the "Manage My Alerts" button, and sign in using your Penn State Access ID and password.

To ensure the fastest possible delivery of critical information to the Penn State Harrisburg community, the PSUAlert system is reserved for students, faculty, and staff. Through this system, these groups receive alerts at their Penn State-issued email address. Enrollees in the system may also opt to receive alerts by text message, at other email addresses, and by phone/voicemail.

Students may add parent/guardian/family member contact information to their PSUAlert accounts if they wish, but they must take the initiative to do so. Faculty and staff may do the same for a spouse, partner or family member.

The Clery Act, a federal law related to campus safety, requires that the entire campus community be alerted as quickly as possible in the event of an emergency. To help ensure the prompt delivery of alerts to the people directly affected by an incident on or near the campus, everyone is asked to limit the addition of others’ contact information when possible. Alert messages are also placed on public platforms.

In an emergency, notifications are distributed on the campus website, digital signage on campus, and on the college's Facebook and Twitter channels. Communications with the media also play a crucial role in getting information to the public in the event of an emergency.

For more information, visit the PSU Alert homepage. Additional questions can be sent to [email protected].

Take safety precautions

Students should always be mindful of their personal safety and be responsible when on campus and in the community.

Whether you live on campus or off, always lock your doors to help safeguard against theft. Residence halls are equipped with safety systems to restrict access to residents only. If you have a bicycle, make sure it is properly locked and registered. Similarly, make sure items such as phones, laptops, wallets, and purses are not left unattended.

Please use sidewalks and designated walkways, respect private property, and adhere to community regulations to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Near a major transportation hub, the campus neighborhood includes the airport and high-speed train travel. Please be reminded that walking on or near train tracks is dangerous, illegal, and could impact not only your safety, but your enrollment at Penn State Harrisburg, as well.

Safeguard your personal information

Phishing scams and phone scams unfortunately are common, so be sure not to give out your personal information, including your Penn State ID number and your passwords.

If you receive a strange email or phone call trying to get you to share personal information, even seemingly from someone you know and trust, it may very well be a phishing attempt.

Official law enforcement agencies, including University and local police, will never contact you demanding money under the threat of arrest — this is a common scam that can take many different forms.

If you’re unsure if something is legitimate, reach out to a trusted source or report the incident to University Police. You can report suspicious emails to [email protected]. To learn more about information security and what you can do to protect yourself online, visit security.psu.edu/phishing. If you believe you are a victim of such a scam, you should report it to police by calling 911 or using the online reporting form

Understand ‘Run, Hide, Fight’

Penn State has adopted an Active Attacker Response Program as part of the University’s ongoing commitment to the safety of those who are on University campuses to learn, live, work and visit.

Based upon the “Run, Hide, Fight” model developed by the city of Houston, Penn State’s Active Attacker Response Program offers the same three action steps if confronted with an active assailant, making it easy to remember and act upon in an emergency: run if you can, hide if you can’t, and fight as a last resort.

University Police and Public Safety has additional details on the “Run, Hide, Fight” protocol, including a step-by-step guide and training video, available at this page.

Understand the concept of ‘medical amnesty’

The first steps to avoid trouble with alcohol are not drinking while underage and, for those of legal age, to always use alcohol responsibly.

A reminder, the possession or use of alcoholic beverages is prohibited in all on-campus residence halls, including the Capital Village Apartments and Nittany Village, regardless of age.

However, Penn State policy and Pennsylvania law both protect underage individuals who make a report out of concern for the safety and well-being of a friend.

Under Pennsylvania’s Medical Amnesty Law and Penn State’s “responsible action protocol,” if someone calls the authorities out of concern for another person suffering from an alcohol or drug overdose, both the caller and the person in need of medical care are shielded from legal or disciplinary repercussions if the caller reasonably believes they are the first to call, provides their name, and stays with the person in need of medical attention until the authorities arrive.

Understand the importance of consent and what constitutes sexual assault

Sexual assault unfortunately does occur on college campuses across the nation, with a large percentage of those assaults occurring in the first weeks of the semester as new students are adjusting to college life.

The University offers guidance to all students on understanding consent, and the importance of obtaining consent before sexual activity, and resources available to survivors of sexual assault.

If you are ever the victim of sexual assault, Penn State Harrisburg has campus specific resources available to support and empower survivors. The Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Response offers ways to report sexual misconduct, resources for victims, and information on how to support survivors. A campus sexual misconduct resource person and Victim/Witness Advocates are available to assist in incidents of sexual assault. Counseling Services is available to provide emotional and logistical support for crisis situations such as sexual assault at 717-948-6025. Survivors also can report the crime of sexual assault to University Police and Public Safety.