University of Wisconsin–Madison

Campus Safety

UW–Madison values parents and families as partners in supporting student safety. We know the conversations you have with your students matter and that you are invested in the safety of the Badger community.

We appreciate you talking with your students about resources and tips, and discussing how Badgers take care of each other. We also know you may have questions about how the university helps keep our community safe and communicates when an incident occurs.

A Campus Within a City

Madison is the second largest city in the state of Wisconsin with a population of more than 250,000 people. While Madison is generally a safe community, crime does occur. The University of Wisconsin–Madison Police Department (UWPD) is an active presence on campus, especially in the evenings, on weekends and in University Housing. They also maintain a positive partnership with the City of Madison Police Department and will increase their presence in certain areas if they know about specific issues.

Emergency and Safety Communications

UWPD will issue a WiscAlert via email, text, Facebook, and Twitter when a known and active on-campus emergency is occurring. WiscAlerts concisely communicate relevant information so that our community can take immediate action to stay safe, such as in an active threat situation. All UW­–Madison students, faculty, and staff receive emergency notifications, and UWPD has expanded access to parents.

Crime Warnings are sent campus-wide via email in order to notify the campus community of a specific crime on-campus that has already occurred. Crime Warnings are sent when a suspect has either not been identified or apprehended. Learn more about Crime Warnings here.

Starting in October of last year, the UW–Madison Police Department (UWPD) launched Off-Campus Alerts to keep the campus community better informed about crimes and emergencies happening in areas just off campus where many students live or frequently visit. Please know, however, that not all crimes that happen off-campus will trigger an Off-Campus Alert. While UWPD and the Madison Police Department have a strong partnership, UWPD does not always learn about off-campus crimes immediately.

This expansion in alerts moves UW–Madison beyond what is required through the Clery Act, which means there could be an increase in the number of alerts that are sent. We value the opportunity to keep our community informed, and we understand that increased messaging can create the perception that more crime is occurring. Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and we all share concerns whenever crime occurs. UWPD is committed to ensuring safety through collaborative approaches with campus offices, student organizations, and the City of Madison Police Department.

 Safety Tips

SAFEwalk staff walk with a student to a campus location at night.
SAFEwalk is a free walking companionship service available to all students, faculty, staff, and UW visitors. (Photo: Jeff Miller/UW–Madison)

Crime victims are never responsible for the behavior of perpetrators. Nothing is failsafe, but here are some crime prevention suggestions students should consider:

  • Be active in supporting a safe and respectful community. If you’re a bystander and something doesn’t seem right or you think someone needs help, step in.
  • If you see others engaging in illegal, disrespectful or inappropriate actions, speak up. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe confronting them, call 911.
  • Walk in groups and make sure someone you trust knows your location.
  • Use and encourage others to have a companion or safe means of getting home — like a trusted friend, taxi/rideshare, or SAFEwalk — a free walking companionship service available to all students, faculty, staff, and UW visitors. Call or text 608-262-5000 to request a walk.
  • Keep your belongings locked up — including doors and windows.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so legally and responsibly.
  • Download UWPD’s safety app, WiscGuardian.

Additional Resources