Public Safety

When to Call Public Safety

Public Safety should be notified by calling 212-854-5555 in the following circumstances:

  • If suspicious persons, activities, or incidents are witnessed anywhere on campus.
  • If residents are assaulted.
  • If a resident’s room has been broken into in any way.
  • If any of a resident’s property is stolen or vandalized.
  • If a resident’s room key or CUID has been stolen.
  • If there is a personal safety concern for yourself or for that of another.
  • If a fire occurs.
  • If residents witness any of the above, or for any other safety concerns or emergencies.

Public Safety will contact Columbia University Emergency Medical Service (CU-EMS) if necessary and will inform the resident’s RA and Residential Life staff of the situation at an appropriate time.

Safety Guidelines

  • Keep personal room and suite doors locked at all times.
  • Do not sign anyone into residence halls who you do not know or who will not be in your company at all times. Remember that residents are responsible for any guests they sign in.
  • Never open doors to strangers. If the person persists or tries to gain entry, contact Public Safety.
  • Avoid keeping large amounts of cash or valuables in residence hall rooms.
  • Stairs should not be used when a resident feels threatened or as a means to escape pursuers or potential attackers. Go to an area where other people are present instead.
  • Never give out private information to strangers over the telephone. If a resident is the victim of telephone harassment, report it to Public Safety or a Residence Hall Director (RHD).
  • Be aware of and adhere to operating hours for city parks, and note that hours vary by park. If choosing to enter a park when it is dark outside, consider walking in groups and carry a whistle or other sound device to signal should you need assistance.
  • Avoid walking near dark doorways, abandoned buildings, or other locations where someone could be hiding. Avoid shortcuts and stay in well-lit areas.
  • If you feel that you are being followed, cross the street and remain alert. Be prepared to use your mobile phone to call for assistance.
  • Rather than walking alone at night, use the on-demand Evening Shuttle. When possible walk in groups.
  • If a vehicle stops and the occupant asks for directions, remain on the sidewalk and do not approach the car. Walk in the opposite direction.
  • When arriving home by private vehicle or taxi, ask the driver to wait until you are safely on campus grounds, and preferably inside residence halls.
  • Have keys in hand so that doors can be opened quickly.
  • For more safety and crime prevention tips, see the Crime Prevention and Safety page on the Columbia Public Safety website.

Download the Lion Safe App for Safety on The Go

All the resources of Columbia University Public Safety are available at your fingertips through Lion Safe, a user-friendly app available for your smartphone or tablet. 

The Lion Safe app allows the user to request emergency services at the touch of a button along with other useful quick links including maps, shuttle schedules, crime alerts, emergency protocols, campus safety notifications, and non-emergency numbers for each campus. 

The app also offers a safety feature called Friend Walk, a way to alert someone else of your location in real-time so they can follow your path to your destination and trigger a call to emergency services if necessary. Similar to sending an SMS message, your friend will receive a link to connect, which takes them to your location on a map. Once you arrive at your destination safely, remember to finish your trip and disconnect. 

  • Before entering an elevator, check to see who is inside. If you do not feel comfortable, wait for the next elevator.
  • Never tamper with or abuse any of the equipment or controls.
  • Never pry open doors or hold them open by the safety edges.
  • Never exceed the capacity posted in the elevator car.
  • Should an elevator stop between floors, use the emergency phone located in the elevator car; it will provide direct access to Public Safety. They will give residents proper instructions on how to proceed.
  • Never attempt to exit an elevator that is stuck between floors without directions and assistance from emergency personnel.
  • Report elevator malfunctions to 212-854-2797. Specify the elevator location, the nature of the problem, and the number of passengers in the elevator.
  • Never use elevators in a fire.