Shining a light on campus safety

18 common assault incidents in 2005—the highest number in eight years, says Campus Security

When you press the red button at the base of the blue light, the light’s phone gets connected to the emergency report centre on campus.
When you press the red button at the base of the blue light, the light’s phone gets connected to the emergency report centre on campus.

Last April, on a Saturday night amid term-end celebrations, a female student was assaulted by an unknown male on her way home from a friend’s house.

“He grabbed me by the arm and pushed me against a wall,” she told the Journal. “He tried to kiss me and said obscene things. When I turned my face away, he pushed me into the wall again, which scraped my face over my cheekbone and along my jaw.”

The student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said she saw her attacker from a distance while walking home on Johnson Street, but didn’t think she was in danger.

“I saw several people on my walk home, mostly walking alone due to the late hour,” she said. “When he approached me, I assumed he was going to ask me a question—for a light or directions. I didn’t really have time to form any expectations.”

She said the actions he took left her speechless.

“At first I did nothing at all—it was such a complete shock,” she said. “After a moment I started flailing sort of uselessly before I gathered my wits. Then I yelled at him, telling him to let me go and I kicked at him, trying to hit his knees and crotch.”

After landing a blow, he backed off, cursed, and ran off down the street, she said.

“He was clearly drunk; I doubt he even knew what he was doing.”

The attack left her in disbelief.

“The strange thing is that all I could think was, ‘But I’m nearly home. I’m two minutes from home,’ ” she said.

She said she contacted Kingston Police when she arrived home.

“The police officer asked me questions and took notes,” she said. “I can’t say he was particularly comforting, but he did his job and offered to have someone speak to me if I was upset about what happened ... I feel the Kingston police took the incident very seriously and did everything in their power to help.”

Director of Campus Security David Patterson said the department generates almost 10,000 incident reports in a year.

“There are a variety of reports that go right from dealing with a noise complaint to [a] suspicious person, to dealing with an assault, to [dealing with] somebody who is locked out of an office, to fire alarms and intrusion alarms on campus.”

Campus Security is the University’s security service that patrols campus and also offers a variety of programs to ensure campus safety. The department has one patrol vehicle, 12 full-time employees, and upwards of 40 part-time student employees.

Campus Security has a hands-off policy.

“Our staff do not become physically involved in any incident that we respond to,” Patterson said.

He said the department employs techniques like illuminating the area where an incident is happening, identifying themselves at witnesses, verbally de-escalating situations, utilizing methods of crowd control and providing any first aid treatment.

“If it is something that warrants police intervention, then we notify the police,” he said.

Patterson said that the three most common reasons for calling Campus Security are theft, suspicious persons and activity, and noise complaints.

According to the department’s 2005 statistics, there were 159 incidents of theft, 238 incidents of suspicious persons or activity and 93 noise complaints.

Campus Security provides an emergency phone service, commonly referred to as “blue lights.” The emergency phones, which have been in use approximately 12 to 15 years, are located on frequently traveled routes in order to create better access to emergency services within those areas.

When the red button is pressed, the phone is connected directly to the emergency report centre within Campus Security. An exact location of the phone is indicated, and two-way audio communication is established.

Patterson said there are about 70 exterior emergency phones located on campus. According to Physical Plant Services blueprints, eight emergency phones are located on West Campus while the rest are on Main Campus.

Patterson said the number of emergency phones on West Campus reflects the amount of foot-traffic.

He added that the department hopes to install another blue light on West Campus, to be funded through the AMS Judicial Committee by fees paid by the guilty party.

Currently, the department has plans to install an emergency phone in the courtyard between Macdonald Hall and Dunning Hall, to be ready by September, he said.

Along with this new installation, the department will update five units across campus which have become badly faded and weathered.

Patterson said the emergency phones most often used are located in high traffic areas.

“The ones that are used the most are the ones that are along University Avenue, along Stuart Street and along Queen’s Crescent,” he said, adding that students living in residence are a source of natural observation and surveillance.

The locations of the emergency phones are decided based on data composed by the department, Patterson said.

“We take a look at where our heavy foot-traffic occurs and we ensure that there is adequate access to emergency phones at those locations.”

The department considers factors like isolation, proximity to other blue lights, lighting levels and after-dark usage patterns when deciding where emergency phones should be installed, he said.

Patterson said there are no emergency phones currently located in the Ghetto, but with the development of the future Queen’s Centre, the blue lights would be installed in areas closer to where students live.

“One of the reasons why there [are] not lights in the student housing area is [because] they have to be hooked into electricity and into phone lines,” he said, “Also, it is usually our supervisor who responds to emergency calls ... and they only have jurisdiction on University property.”

He said the department has been approached by students about installing emergency phones in City Park and along the waterfront.

Patterson said Campus Security patrols off-campus locations in a triangle-shaped area bounded by Princess Street, King Street, Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard and Gardiner Street.

“As we drive on city streets and we are going from one point on campus to some of the properties the University owns in the surrounding area, we ensure that we go around the student housing area looking for suspicious activity and we do report it to the police,” he said.

Patterson said there is no particular type of person more prone to attack than another, but rather that an individual’s actions dictate their risk.

“It is persons [who] place themselves in a position of risk if they are by themselves,” he said. “One of the main things we try to get across to members of our community is [to] always party with friends, always walk with friends to and from class.”

To avoid walking alone, students should contact one of the various services on campus that are available to students, he said.

Walkhome, an AMS service, provides a male and female escort to walk a student from one point to the other, from dusk until 2:00 a.m. Sunday to Wednesday, and from dusk until 3:00 a.m. Thursday to Saturday, for free.

Outside of Walkhome’s operating hours, Campus Security provides the On-Campus Walk Safe Program, which provides an escorted walk between two locations on campus.

In 2005, there were 18 incidents of common assault, the highest number in eight years.

Patterson said a common assault could be anything from a fight outside a bar, to a fight on the general campus.

The department wasn’t able to draw any conclusions about the increase, he said.

Also in 2005, campus security recorded five incidents of assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, and one incident of sexual assault.

So far this year, there have been seven incidents of common assault, two incidents of assault with a weapon or causing bodily harm, and one sexual assault that occurred off-campus.

Constable Nadine Legare, the media relations officer with Kingston Police, said she felt students were aware of the risks associated with assaults while at university.

“Students are relatively smart when it comes to assaults,” she said. “Except people tend to forget about safety when they go out for a night on the town, they might think it’s okay to walk by themselves.”

Legare said it is important for students to be aware of their surroundings when walking alone.

“If someone looks out of place, they probably are.”

She said sexual assaults were not frequent at the University, but they happened in the past.

She said student awareness of the people around them, especially those who are unfamiliar, is an important measure in preventing sexual assault.

“If you do find yourself a victim of date rape or sexual assault, ... the sooner you report the incident [to the hosptial] the better.”

Safety Resources for students

•Walkhome: 613-533-9255
•Amey’s Taxi: 613-546-1111
•Modern Taxi: 613-546-2222
•Campus Security:
Emergency: 613-533-6111
Non-emergency: 613-533-6733
•Kingston Police: 613-549-4660
•Kingston Sexual Assault
Crisis Center: 613-544-6424

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