Safety after dark

‘Women are systemically attacked more’

It’s 10 p.m. on Wednesday, a week after a sexual assault in a York University residence and two weeks after a sexual assault in a Carleton University chemistry lab.

Georgette Andreopoulos and Ellen Allwright, both ArtSci ’09, are walking home from campus past Goodes Hall on Union Street.

Andreopoulos said she feels safe on campus at night.

“A lot of people are around at night,” she said.

The latest Andreopoulos has ever been alone on campus is 4:30 a.m. She said it was the presence of other students, not Campus Security, that made her feel safe.

Allwright also feels safe walking alone at night, especially around the student Ghetto.

“I always feel like I’m in close proximity to someone I know,” Allwright said. “I think, overall, it’s a small campus. I feel safe on campus.”

Not all female Queen’s students feel as safe alone on campus at night. Of the more than 11,000 walks Walkhome gave last year, 90 per cent were for female students.

Alex Kelly, Walkhome night co-ordinator, and ArtSci ’08, said she has seen more students taking advantage of the service in the four years she has worked there.

A spate of violence against women on Ontario campuses over the past few weeks has put the issue in the spotlight.

There have been four reported sexual assaults on Queen’s campus since 2002, according to Campus Security’s website.

Katie Reid, co-chair of the Women’s Centre and ArtSci ’08, said it’s important to involve both sexes when making the campus safe.

“The other side of women’s studies is that men have to be aware of it … not part of the problem but part of the solution,” she said. “In terms of equality, yes, everyone should be safe, but in terms of equality, women are systemically attacked more.”

Corry Lomer, ArtSci ’08 and also co-chair of the centre, said men can bring a different viewpoint on the issue of women’s safety on campus.

“There’s a different impact than a woman saying it.”

In addition to the incidences this month at Carleton and York, three female students were groped in separate incidents on a trail near Laurentian University.

Every night, four to six of Campus Security’s safety officers patrol campus on foot, monitoring pathways and high-traffic areas.

They also have one security practitioner who responds to emergency calls, two supervisors and Emergency Report Centre dispatch staff.

“We ensure that facilities are locked [and] outside campus buildings the lights are turned on,” Patterson said. “Certain buildings we’re through more than once, such as Mac-Corry and [the JDUC].”

In the incident at Carleton, a 23-year-old student was working alone in a chemistry lab just after midnight on a Saturday when she was beaten unconscious, tied up and sexually assaulted. She sustained a broken jaw and a dislocated shoulder.

Patterson said Campus Security has a “Lone Worker Program” for people working by themselves late at night in a campus building such as a lab.

Students, faculty or staff can call Campus Security and tell them where they’re working and between what times.

At the end of that period of time, the person calls Campus Security to let them know he or she is leaving and whether he or she needs an escort.

If Campus Security doesn’t receive a call, they will visit the building to make sure the person is all right.

Patterson said Campus Security is adding five practitioners to its staff this year. They will work 12-hour shifts from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday to Friday, and will respond to emergency calls.

There are more than 170 emergency phones inside buildings and on blue lights around campus.

The phones connect to the 24-hour Campus Security response line.

Campus Security is adding two more blue lights over the next few months: one east of Gordon Hall, and another northeast of Duncan McArthur Hall on west campus.

Campus Security offers a women-only rape aggression defence course.

The course combines awareness information with practical defence techniques. It’s offered twice each term, with a maximum enrolment of 15 women—both faculty and students—each session.

Students are required to pay a $10 deposit that’s returned at the end of the course.

The Women’s Centre also offers a free self-defence course once a semester.

Patterson said Campus Security is constantly reviewing its safety practices.

Each year, volunteers—students, staff or community members—perform safety audits, where they walk around campus with a checklist, recording their impressions on lighting and their levels of comfort.

“The audits assist us in making decisions to ensure the physical environment of the University is as safe as possible.”

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