Time to get serious about off campus security

University is a second home for students, whether you’re in residence or living off campus. Truly, in those situations, you feel the pressure and the effects of living away from home, such as cooking for yourself, cleaning the house and the dreaded task of doing laundry. However, there are many students who don’t feel like this place is home, especially at night. Many students are still afraid to walk alone to classes, club meetings or even a walk.

And rightly so. On the morning of Sept. 28, a 19-year-old university student was found with gunshot wounds near the entrance of Simon Fraser University and later died in the hospital. It is unclear whether the student was assaulted on campus but this situation prompts valid discussion about security on and around the Wilfrid Laurier University community. In my opinion, the security around campuses is still a very prominent issue.

Yet, on campus security is not the real issue; more than 90 per cent of Laurier’s campus is monitored by security cameras. As well, even a random stroll around campus will bring you face-to-face with one of many emergency poles that can be found near any residence. With the press of a button, you can alert a student dispatcher or special constable.

Let’s also not forget our special constables who can easily be found on foot, bicycle or patrol car. Special constables have provided a number of security measures, from active patrol to the campus neighbourhood watch. Lastly, if your safety at night is ever a question, Foot Patrol can be easily contacted through a simple phone call. There are multiple options one can take to stay secure on campus.

However, as I have already stated, a large number of students still feel unsafe around the Laurier community. Last year, a female student was sexually assaulted twice, once on campus and the other time on Hickory St. As well, according to the special constables’ website, a safety notice was posted July 22 concerning a sexual assault on Bricker Ave. around 1:45 a.m. Safety is still a prominent issue within our school and we must consider why these serious events are still occurring.

One possible reason is that the streets around campus are not as extensively monitored. This is an issue because almost every senior student lives off campus and must walk on these streets when going to meetings late at night or even coming home from class. True, the special constables do monitor the area proficiently, however many students live in areas that are farther away from campus. Street such as Hickory and Ezra are known among the student population for their minimal lighting, garnering the reputation of being “sketch” at night.

We could always argue that Foot Patrol is a plausible solution to this issue. Nevertheless, the problem in this case is not the service but the way students view it. Foot Patrol is a student-run organization that provides security for those who wish to be walked home. Still, there are those who refrain from contacting them due to the fact that they live close to campus. I too am guilty of this mentality. My roommates and I live close to the school and even when scared at night, we decide to walk home alone with the justification that we live “just 30 seconds away from campus.” I feel that it is this mentality of false security that leads to the perfect setting for these assaults.

Security on and around campus is known to be one of the most prominent issues within the Laurier community and something the administration has taken seriously as well. However, despite all the safety procedures available, a multitude of students are still fearful at the thought of walking home after a late night meeting. We all should play a role in becoming more vigilant: students should be proactive in maintaining their personal security and the community should consider safety measures beyond campus – off campus safety should continue to exist within the purview of campus security as well.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated since its original publishing date.

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