The results of a campus safety audit, conducted by the Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Women and Children (METRAC) in partnership with the Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) were made available to the public last Wednesday.
Toronto-based METRAC was contracted by the MASU to conduct a safety and security audit in 2012, which was undertaken between August 2012 and March 2013. The MASU received the final report on July 12, 2013, and they reviewed the survey with the administration prior to the report’s public release.
The fifty-seven-page report makes a number of wide-ranging recommendations aimed at improving the safety and security of students at Mount Allison University. The recommendations include revisions to strengthen Mt. A policies and procedures, as well as more tangible initiatives such as improving lighting on campus and increasing the number of security services staff.
In a Nov. 13 press release accompanying the public release of the report, MASU President Melissa O’Rourke said, “It’s a big wake up call for students as well as for the university. There are a number of changes that will be forthcoming from this audit.”
While it is yet to be determined what specific changes will be made as a result of the report, O’Rourke said she is “incredibly confident” changes will be forthcoming. The report has been referred to the University Governance Committee, which has been tasked with updating policies and procedures, and the Security Matters Committee, a standing committee that deals with day-to-day security issues at Mt. A.
O’Rourke noted that the university administration played a crucial role in securing funding for the project by writing a letter of recommendation to Status of Women Canada, who provided the MASU a funding grant for the METRAC contract.
“The university has made it very clear that they really want to work with the students’ union to improve safety and security on campus, to ensure that these recommendations aren’t taken lightly,” she said.
“[The report] might be useful and very effective in increasing safety in what is already a very safe and secure environment,” said Mt. A Vice-President International and Student Affairs Ron Byrne.
He added, “We’ll have to see as [the committee process] unfolds, how and in what way these recommendations might inform our practice.”
“We don’t tend to spend money unless it’s going to move us forward in a real and substantive way,” Byrne said, when asked about recommendations that might involve capital expense on the part of the university. “At the end of the day, it’s important that it’s going to make real change, not just the appearance of change.”
Many of the audit report’s recommendations were based on online survey responses from students, collected last fall. In total, 475 students completed the survey, eighty per cent of whom identified as female. The report notes that the overrepresentation of students in the sample “suggests that campus safety may be a very important issue to female students.”