Campus Life

Information for the Penn State community on campus safety resources

Penn State is committed to providing the safest possible campus environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. Credit: L. Reidar Jensen / Penn StateCreative Commons

Penn State is committed to providing the safest possible campus environment for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. Given recurring acts of violence around the country, including the recent tragic events at a Florida high school, the University is sharing information about safety programming and resources available at Penn State.

Sadly, we are reminded regularly that it is not possible to entirely prevent violence in any community, however, we can reduce the chance of violent events by remaining vigilant and caring for ourselves and those around us.

Safety is the University’s first priority, and Penn State has numerous programs in place to create an environment that is as safe and secure as possible for all members of our community. We believe that a college campus should be a place where people feel safe to learn and express themselves in a secure and respectful environment.

All members of the University community must remain vigilant and should have a plan in place to quickly evacuate and seek cover in an emergency situation. As always, University Police remind the community to report suspicious persons or activities by calling 911.

While there are many types of emergency situations, in the event of an active shooter, the StaySAFE program provided by University Police and Public Safety urges people to:

  • Search for an exit: Do what you can to get to a safe place. Leave the area in the opposite direction from any shooter.
  • Alert the authorities: Call or text 911. Give as many details about what you saw or heard, as well as your current location. Do not assume that someone else has called – you may have new information for the police.
  • Find a place to hide: If you cannot leave, turn out the lights of the room you are in, lock or barricade the door and hide until help arrives. Avoid hallways, turn your cell phone on silent and remain as quiet as possible.
  • End the threat: This is a last resort when you have no other option, a life or death situation. Attempt to take out the shooter however you can. If you choose this option, do not hesitate and be decisive.

Authorities at Penn State have numerous safety measures in place to protect students, faculty and staff, including:

  • Police officers with University Police and Public Safety work closely with partners at all levels of government and emergency management, for both planning and responding to incidents of violence.
  • Active shooter exercises and other safety scenarios are conducted regularly among security personnel and law enforcement, as well as other units at Penn State, around a wide variety of potential threats. Pre-event planning related to venues and crowd size is part of regular safety protocols.
  • Guidance and online training focused on response to an active shooter situation for students, faculty and staff is available through the StaySAFE: Surviving an Active Shooter Program at
  • Computerized card access systems at all residence halls that only allow residents access to their own building. This system is in place on all Penn State campuses that have on-campus housing.
  • A University-wide policy, SY12 Weapons, Fireworks and Paintball Devices, that bans weapons on all University property except by law enforcement and authorized personnel;
  • A Behavioral Threat Management Team at each campus composed of community members whose purpose is to mitigate risk through early intervention before a troubled individual harms themselves or others. Members of the University community can report a concern any time.
  • A number of programs in place to assist individuals through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which offers students free access to group therapy, individual counseling, crisis intervention and psychiatric services.

The University also encourages individuals to learn more about personal safety through offerings such as the Safe Walk Service, blue light emergency telephones and Stand for State Bystander Intervention training.

In addition, the University Park Undergraduate Association recently collaborated with the Office of Student Affairs to update Penn State’s Responsible Action Protocol and will host Sexual Violence Awareness and Prevention Week April 9-13, featuring information sessions, events and speakers addressing sexual violence prevention resources.

In the event of an emergency, the University will use PSUAlert to provide the campus community with critical information. All Penn State students, faculty and staff members receive PSUAlert messages by email, and can choose to receive messages by text message or phone call by visiting

Penn State’s leadership, including University Police and Public Safety, regularly reviews safety protocols and programs in order to provide the safest possible environment for the campus community. For more information about campus safety, visit Penn State’s Emergency Action Guides and Annual Security Reports.

Last Updated August 06, 2020