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Staying Safe at the Chicago Center

By Greer Anderson, Admissions Officer

Fall 2023 students at Mind Body Defense.

Deciding to spend a semester in a city like Chicago can be a tough call. Many of our students come from small, private liberal art institutions where the safety concerns of big city living are far away. 

Undoubtedly, going to a different city to study presents some risks. New opportunities will bring new challenges. But, you can easily mitigate the risks and protect your personal safety no matter where in the world you are by following a few simple tips.

We know safety is often top of mind for both students and parents in making the decision to come to Chicago and it’s a paramount priority for the Chicago Center staff team, too. Below are 3 key aspects to our program that promote safety for all participants.

Fall 2023 students with Officer Tawrence Walton.
  1. O-Week:

    1. Self Defense Class: During O-Week, all students complete a two hour self-defense course with Torriente Toliver at Mind Body Defense. Toliver, author of Everyday Self-Defense: Defending the Body, Protecting the Mind, utilizes his 25 years of martial arts training to help students understand their bodies and the best way to defend themselves. This class is often students’ favorite event, with an overall rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars. 

    2. Safety Conversation: Another O-Week hit is a conversation with the University of

    3. CTA Training: Part of our training workshop for public transit is a discussion on best practices when traveling the city. Staff share their experiences riding CTA and give tips for how to avoid conflict. Things as simple as “hold onto your bag” and “keep one headphone out” can help students stay out of a sticky situation. Students have reported finding this session helpful as it assuaged some other general fears about navigating public transit: “I found the [CTA] excursions the most helpful. They not only helped familiarize us with the surrounding areas, but also introduced students to the public transit system in a safe and immersive manner” (Anonymous Student, Fall ‘22).

  2. Student Support:

    1. On Call: Another feature of our program is 24/7 staff assistance on the weekend. Students can reach a member of staff regarding anything from housing questions to getting lost getting home. Students are encouraged to contact emergency services, but staff is happy to be there to support throughout the process. 

    2. Telus Health: In conversations about safety, it can be easy to forget the importance of mental and psychological safety. Students completing our program can sometimes feel homesick or stressed – it’s completely normal! Luckily, through our program, students have access to Telus Health. This program provides 24/7 remote mental health and wellness support, including clinical professionals who are experienced with helping students specifically cope. 

As a final note, it’s important to remember that Chicago often has a spotlight on its crime rate. There’s an age old saying that if you look intentionally for something, you’re sure to find it, like red cars. Consider how common plane crashes are versus car crashes, and contrast that with how many people are scared of flying versus driving. That said, this map curated by ABC7 Chicago shows how safe Hyde Park is in comparison to other neighborhoods in Chicago, as well as how Chicago overall ranks in comparison to other cities across the country.

Student safety is top priority at Chicago Center. We hope that both students and parents find comfort in knowing that there are resources available to keep everyone safe. 

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