On Monday evening, members of the Student Union’s Security Matters Committee took a night walk around campus to identify potentially unsafe areas to follow up with the results of the the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) conducted in the 2012-13 fiscal year.
The MASU contracted METRAC to conduct an audit of safety and security on campus three years ago. Last year, the MASU President, Heather Webster and VP campus life Andrew Johnston gave recommendations on which issues within the METRAC they believed should be focused on in further work.
This year, Ryan LeBreton, VP student life suggested that more student input was needed. This summer, he created a focus group of twelve students which then went through the METRAC report, and made recommendations.
During the morning and afternoon before the walk, Lebreton and a few stationed themselves in Jennings dining hall and the student center, and asked students to fill out surveys. These surveys held a few questions directly relating to safety and security, for example “do you feel safe walking at night on campus?” The areas they identified as problematic were visited during the night walk.
SHARE and Harassment advisor Melody Petlock, Adam Christie, the director of student life, security and safety coordinator Paul Bragg the security and safety coordinator, and Katelyn Roy the residence life coordinator participated in the walk. The group departed from the back of the student center, walked around the outskirts of campus, and then crossed through campus. LeBreton said that the majority of students who felt unsafe lived off-campus, which is why the group focused on the edges of campus. Petlock said “the point is not whether anything has happened or not, it’s whether people psychologically feel safe.”
The majority of issues identified on the walk were related to poor lighting. Most notably, the group decided that many parking lots on campus were not adequately lit. Parking lots such as the Park-Lansdowne lot are often used late at night, whether it is for intramural sports games or simply overnight parking. “When we hear about bad things, they often happen in parking lots.” said Christie. Petlock also said the “bad things” that Christie is referring to are commonly ex-boyfriends, ex-husbands and ex-significant others. Rectory Lane and the path leading to Convocation Hall were also identified as unsafe by students.
A lit-up map of campus in the King Street parking lot identified the location of the five emergency phones on campus. Paul Bragg explained that all five emergency phones have recently been fixed.
Another goal of the Security Matters committee for 2015-2016 is to make a crosswalk which crosses York Street where a set of steps ends.
The METRAC report also criticised the university’s out-dated sexual harassment policy, which has not been updated since 1994. Lebreton explained that VP International and Student Affairs Kim Meade is currently reviewing the current sexual harassment policy. While LeBreton acknowledges that it is a long process, he said that he was making sure there was “forward momentum.”