Boulder and the University of Colorado are continually named one of the “best college towns” and “most beautiful campus” by various publications, and that’s something we can all take pride in.

But we must not forget that in the midst of this fantastic educational and natural environment, we live in a campus community of 30,000 and a city of 100,000 with all the inherent safety concerns that present themselves in any community.

Each of CU’s 30,000 students was chosen to join a dynamic community of learners in an inspiring intellectual and recreational setting. But with that comes a responsibility to practice safety and common sense.

As chancellor at CU-Boulder, I encourage you to exercise your responsibility by knowing your environment — your personal environment, your city environment and the natural environment that surrounds you.

Safety in your personal environment means recognizing the difference between a new friend and an interloper, carrying a cell phone for emergency calls, making smart personal choices such as locking windows and doors, traveling in groups, not walking alone at night or in alleys, and not overindulging to the point your judgment is compromised.

Knowing your city environment is about obeying traffic and municipal laws, and respecting those around you such as your neighbors and city residents. Be aware of state and municipal laws regarding driving under the influence, underage drinking, texting while driving, and noise violations as well as CU’s policy on alcohol and drugs.

When it’s time to celebrate, take advantage of a new program to register your off-campus party. It met great success in its debut last spring and proved to develop positive relationships between students and neighbors.

In Boulder, we are blessed by the allure of the Flatirons and the outdoors. But don’t let that beauty deceive you about its hidden hazards. Know the natural environment where you have chosen to live. Know wildfire safety precautions. Know that unsecured trash attracts bears.

When you are playing in the hills, be aware of approaching storms and lightning, stay on the trail, and obey trail and safety etiquette. When climbing, remember that sometimes it’s harder to get down than up, and don’t make the mistake of climbing the Flatirons if you are inexperienced.

You were admitted to CU because you are smart. So be smart. Know your environment.

Philip P. DiStefano is chancellor at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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