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Campus Resources

Off-Campus Student Services

What is Off-Campus Student Services?

Off-Campus Student Services (OCSS) is part of a unit in Housing and Residence Life that is committed to assisting students to make the most of their off-campus experience. Through education and outreach, Off-Campus Student Services aims to help guide students who are searching for and establishing a home off campus. Our goal is to help students and their families be savvy consumers of off-campus housing options. Additionally, we are here to facilitate connections between off-campus students and valuable campus resources.

Exploring Off-Campus Housing? 

The Department of Housing and Residence Life believes that living on campus offers the best possible start for a college student’s journey. We recognize students are faced with tough decisions about where to live on and off campus. 

Learn more about the legal, financial, and practical implications of living off-campus via webinar hosted by Niner Finances, Student Legal Services, Financial Aid, and Off-Campus Student Services.

Off-Campus Safety Tips

Deciding whether to live on or off campus is a significant decision. In addition to the conveniences, opportunities, and freedom that either option presents, you must also consider the responsibilities associated with both. Your safety is very important.

  • Always lock the door behind you when returning home, especially late at night.
  • Make sure balcony doors and windows are locked.
  • Call the police if you see any unusual or suspicious individuals loitering around your residence.
  • Lock all exterior doors and lock deadbolts, even when you are inside your home. Make sure all motion sensor lights are working.
  • Use the security system in your apartment if it’s provided. Make sure your alarm is on even when you are inside the apartment/house. (Consider installing a security system if there isn’t already one.) 
  • Ask a friend to accompany you.
  • Communicate that you’re calm and confident and know where you’re going by standing tall, walking purposefully and making quick eye contact with people around you.
  • Stay alert. Pay attention to your surroundings.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable in a situation, leave.
  • Avoid standing at a bus or shuttle stop alone, especially at night.
  • Vary your route and schedule.
  • Carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it. Carry a wallet in an inside coat or side pants pocket, not in the rear pants pocket.
  • Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry or clothing or “flash” cash.
  • Walk facing traffic so you can see approaching cars.
  • If you suspect you’re being followed by someone on foot, cross the street and head for the nearest well-lighted, populated area. Walk quickly or run to a house or building to call the police.
  • Avoid jogging and biking at night. Choose routes that are safe and well-populated. Tell someone where you will be going. Vary your route and schedule.
  • Wear bright, reflective clothing and carry some sort of identification. 
  • Consider not wearing your earbuds or headphones. Carry a cell phone and some type of safety device (flashlight, whistle, pepper spray, etc.) when walking at night. 
  • If your apartment complex has blue-light or emergency phones, familiarize yourself with the location of those. Know where those are on campus. 
  • Download the LiveSafe App on your phone, keep it updated, and enable push alerts. Consider using it when you are walking alone at night. 
  • Be identification conscious. Observe your attacker's personal appearance, type of weapon used, and type of vehicle so you can accurately describe them to police.
  • Immediately report incidents to the police and do not hang up until the police arrive.
  • Wear your seatbelt!
  • Make sure to keep your car in good running condition.
  • Maintain a safe level of fuel in your car. 
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Drive with all car doors locked.
  • Plan your route in advance, particularly on long or unfamiliar trips.
  • Be sure someone knows when you are leaving and anticipate arriving, particularly on long or unfamiliar trips.
  • Keep windows rolled up. Keep your vehicle locked when it is parked.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car.
  • If your car breaks down, raise the hood, use flares, or tie a white cloth to the door handle. Stay in the locked car. When someone stops, ask the person to phone for help.
  • If you are being followed while driving, drive to the nearest police or fire station, , an open business, or another area where you can safely call the police. Write down the license number and description of the vehicle and secure a description of the driver. If there are no safe areas around, honk your horn repeatedly and turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Remain calm; don’t panic or show any signs of anger or confusion. Remember, your common sense is your best weapon.
  • If the attacker is only after your purse, wallet or other valuables, don’t resist. You don’t want to escalate a property crime into a violent confrontation. Cash, credit cards, cell phones, etc. can be replaced; YOU can’t.
  • If it is clearly not just a property crime, remain calm and try to throw the attacker off-guard. Strike back fast and aim for vital areas like the eyes, throat, or groin to make it hurt.
  • If there are people nearby, scream and draw as much attention to yourself as possible. Screaming “FIRE” will usually attract attention.
  • Call 911 to reach the police immediately. Identify yourself and your location.
  • If you’re on campus, you may reach Police and Public Safety by calling 704-687-2200 or through the Live Safe App.
  • Call UNC Charlotte’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 704-687-0311 to schedule an appointment with a counselor. Please let the receptionist know if your situation is urgent and a counselor will be available to you as soon as possible. If you’re calling after hours, you’ll be connected to a counselor via ProtoCall, which provides free after-hours support. For more information, visit Counseling and Psychological Services' website.
  • If the crime is a sexual assault, there are a number of people and resources who can assist you. You may report an assault to CMPD (911) or Police and Public Safety (704-687-2200). The Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), the Student Health Center or a local emergency room are all places where students can also seek assistance and make an initial confidential contact. Additionally, the Mecklenburg County Rape Crisis Hotline is 704-375-9900. 
  • If you will be out after dark, be sure to leave a light on. Vary the light you use when possible.
  • Always lock all doors and windows, and turn on your security system alarm, if applicable.
  • When you are out, leave a radio or TV on.
  • Install timers on lights.
  • Don’t keep consistent hours – vary your departure/arrival times.
  • If you have a good relationship with neighbors, ask them to keep an eye on your apartment or house and to look for anything out of the ordinary while you are gone. Leave a contact number where they can reach you.
  • Do not leave valuables on the property.
  • Contact the appropriate agencies to hold your mail and schedule delivery of packages appropriately.
  • Let your landlord know you will be away. Ask if they can keep an eye on the property.
  • Consider buying randomized light timers that go off at odd hours, especially at night. It is a great way to give the impression that someone is in the house. These timers are inexpensive, easy to use, and available via Amazon, Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.
  • Security-wise travelers need to learn how to travel safely. This awareness begins with a realization that they must take reasonable precautions to protect themselves and their personal property. When traveling, remember not to let go of your common sense. Once you enter your room, make sure everything is in working order - this means the lights, the phone, the locks, the shower... everything! Here are some safety tips to make your hotel stay more enjoyable:
  • Keep your eyes on your luggage; accompany your luggage to your room with the bellhop.
  • Request a key that does not have a room number on it. Do not display keys in public or leave them on a restaurant table or other places where they can be stolen.
  • Women travelers should inquire in advance about the lock system of a hotel. An electronic key control system with key cards that are reprogrammed for each guest affords the most security.
  • Have the key in hand to avoid fumbling with it in the hallway. This helps you focus on being aware of your surroundings.
  • If you see loiterers in the hallway near your room, just pass by your door and turn around the corner or pretend you forgot something. Go to the front desk and report the incident.
  • Do not open the door to just anyone. Verify the person's identity by calling the front desk. Do not invite strangers to your room for any reason.
  • Be aware of fire exits location.
  • Do not display cash or expensive jewelry or important documents; use in room safes.
  • Ensure that sliding glass doors or windows and connective room doors are locked.
  • If traveling with children, provide adult supervision and know their whereabouts at all times.
  • Choose a hotel where the surrounding streets and parking lots are well lit and where everyone must enter through a central lobby.
  • When completing a guest registry, consider using your first initial and last name. Register with your business address rather than your home address.

If you’re living off campus, be fire conscious! Use the following checklist for your apartment or house to be sure you’re safe in case of a fire:

  • Smoke Detectors - Check to make sure that you have working smoke detectors by testing them once a month. Change the batteries in your smoke detector every six months, and make sure they're never disconnected.
  • Make sure at least one smoke detector is on every floor of the house. They should be located near each bedroom, either on the ceiling or just a few inches below the ceiling on the wall.
  • The detector should have a distinct warning signal that you'll be sure to hear whether you're awake or asleep.
  • Be aware of the escape plan and an alternate escape plan. Rehearse the escape plan and routes you will take. Make sure you have an outdoor meeting location where everyone will go, so that you can be sure everyone has made it out safe.
  • Make sure you have the phone number of the fire department stored in your cell phone and posted on any land lines.

Other Basic Fire Measures:

  • Don’t use extension cords whenever possible. When you have to use them, make sure they, and all other wires, never have to go under rugs or over doorways.
  • Do not overload electrical outlets.
  • Do not leave candles, warming plates, or other heat sources unattended. 
  • Keep combustible materials like curtains, sheets and rugs away from appliances that may heat up, like computers, TVs, stoves, microwaves, or heaters.
  • Never smoke in bed. Always keep ashtrays and other smoking materials away from combustible materials.
  • Take care to make sure that piles of paper and trash are kept tidy and away from wires and heating appliances.
  • Do not leave a stove unattended while cooking.
  • Never give anyone, aside from your roommates, your schedule as to when you will or will not be home.
  • Use the peephole to check to see who is knocking before telling them to "Come on in!"
  • Lock your doors. All doors in your house/apartment should be locked at all times. If you have a car, make sure you keep those doors locked as well. 
  • Don’t leave valuables in your car. 
  • Landlords are required to provide effective locks for residences - contact your landlord if you have concerns about any security devices in your house.
  • Lock your windows. Don't give burglars an opportunity to gain easy access to your home. Keep your windows locked at all times.
  • Leave an outside light on at night.
  • If someone you don't know enters your residence, call the police immediately via 911.
  • If you have a large window cover it with a curtain and keep the blinds closed.
  • Keep your valuables out of sight at all times.
  • Make sure you pick up all advertisements from the front yard or on the front porch. An accumulation of them can give the appearance that no one is home.
  • Secure your laptop. Make sure that you purchase a lock for your laptop and keep it locked, even when in your home.
  • Invest in a solid bike lock and keep your bike secured to an appropriate bike rack when you are not using it.
  • Report shrubbery or trees that are overgrown and block windows, building numbers, etc. 
  • If you lose or misplace your keys, report that immediately to your landlord.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. If someone is behaving suspiciously, report their behavior to your apartment management or to the police.