AMS, University undertake safety audit

The review will look at potential unsafe factors around the student housing area

The auditors will be looking for streetlights in need of repair, overgrown bushes, shadowy areas and more.
The auditors will be looking for streetlights in need of repair, overgrown bushes, shadowy areas and more.
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The AMS has launched an audit to assess the safety of the housing area surrounding Queen’s. The last time a safety audit of the area was released was in 1997, said AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Troy Sherman.

“It started off after we had a conversation about past campus safety audits that have been done,” Sherman, ArtSci ’14, said.

The 1997 audit was also spear-headed by the Municipal Affairs Commission. The audit was conducted by a small number of students starting in 1995 who made nine recommendations.The recommendations included maintaining and fixing streetlights and asking the City to advertise the value of individuals lighting their porches, carriage ways and back yards and trim overgrown vegetation.

This new initiative was part of Sherman’s goal plan passed in AMS assembly on Sept. 13. Overall, response has been very positive, he said.

The first audits were started on Sept. 24 and 26. The full assessment will be completed in a series of stages that will cover the areas from Earl St. and north to Mack St., to Ontario St. on the east and Sir John A. Macdonald Blvd. on the west. Sherman said he hopes to have the final audit report completed by Campus Security, by the end of October.

The auditors will look at dark spots on the streets, shadowy areas, street light bulbs that may need replacing, overgrown bushes, potential spots where new construction projects interferes with emergency response programs and more.

A lot of the judgments made for the audit will be based on the common sense and the “gut feeling” of one male and one female student -olunteer Sherman said.

In addition, Campus Security will introduce the volunteers to the model for Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) to ensure the audit is being done most effectively. CPTED aims to reduce the possibility of crime through urban planning and development. Sherman noted that this project is a joint initiative.

“It’s for peoples’ safety and it allows us to look at the environment that students and community members live in and figure out some of the problem areas,” Sherman said.

The final report will be passed along to Property Standards Division of the City of Kingston and Kingston Police so that they are aware of the results.

A discussion will then be opened up in two working groups: the Student Affairs-based Campus Safety Working Group and the town-gown-focused Quality of Life Working Group. The latter will be where the major discussion will take place, Sherman said.

“Obviously, [neither] the AMS, nor the University, are best equipped to do changes to light bulbs and street lamps — that doesn’t fall within our jurisdiction,” Sherman said.

He added that he hopes action will be taken by the appropriate groups to help address any issues that may be brought to light by the audit.

As of yet there has been no formal outreach to students by the AMS to gather their opinion or ideas for the audit, Sherman said. After the results come back, however, a forum may be held for students to suggest and request things that they think need attention.

“I think students would come to us if there was something wrong. We haven’t had that yet and we don’t want to have that either,” he said. “So this is also a preventative measure so we don’t have those phone calls from students saying ‘you know what, this area isn’t safe.’”

Exit poll highlights

- Concurrent Education and Education students are most likely to acquire debt, at 81 per cent and 79 per cent respectively. Law students’ debt tends to be the highest, though, with 53 per cent claiming debt at and in excess of $50,000.

- 61 per cent of students polled across faculties agreed or strongly agreed that marking and exams were fair.

- 58 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they were generally able to enroll in their desired courses. Since 2005 the percentage of students able to enroll in the courses they want has declined from 72 per cent.

Campus-wide ($153 million)

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