Texting to campus security aims to improve safety

Soon you’ll be able to text Special Constables when you witness a crime at Wilfrid Laurier University.

The university is implementing a new text messaging system to improve campus safety. The CampusAssist web-based communications system will allow students to report crimes anonymously and discreetly while on and around campus by sending a text message with “SCS” and a description the incident to 78247.

The text goes directly to the campus security communications centre and then a two-way conversation is started between the communicator and the person sending a text message.

Rod Curran, director of Laurier Special Constable Services (SCS), explained how the system works and how it will improve campus safety. “[CampusAssist] will reduce crime on campus, especially with graffiti. The way I look at it, we have fifteen thousand new eyes on the campus.”

“At our University [students] are pretty respectful of the campus, so if they see someone [defacing] a wall they can just text us.” The service will be available at Laurier’s Waterloo and Brantford campuses, along with at the Social Work campus in downtown Kitchener.

Students will have the option to call or text special constables when there’s an emergency or an issue that needs attention. Because of the predominance of texting at Laurier, Curran suggested that this will allow students who are afraid to otherwise report a crime to instead text and not make it visible that they are contacting SCS.

The system, which was active effective Apr. 11, will cost approximately $10,000 a year to operate.

Third year cultural studies and film student Jacqueline Twomey still prefers to call but agreed that texting is a very subtle way of reporting crime. “I always have my phone on me,” she said. “I would probably phone SCS if something was happening right in front of me, though.”

“It’s more important that people are contacting SCS than how they do it, but texting is a good way not to call attention to yourself.”
Laurier is the first post-secondary institution in Canada to incorporate the CampusAssist system into its campus safety services network.