Volume 90, Issue 72

Friday, January 31, 1997

big stick


EDITORIAL: Safe 'n' sound?

People feel pretty safe on this campus, don't they?

That's right. A whopping 68ish per cent of graduating students were satisfied with the level of safety on campus according to 1995-96 survey.

But let's turn that number around. A frighteningly large 32 per cent of students aren't satisfied with the campus' safety level. But numbers can be deceiving. In layman's terms roughly 8,320 of the 26,000 students on campus are not completely satisfied with the level of safety on this campus.

That's a lot of people.

It's easy to brush off abstract figures like 32 per cent. But 8,320 takes a lot longer to say – maybe enough time to ponder the problem and what can be done about it.

Recently the campus has been the scene of an attempted sexual assault. Extreme situations like this one bring attention to the problem but incidents of this nature are in the minority.

It is the more subtle forms of discomfort which are everyday problems that have been ignored for too long.

Many people don't feel comfortable walking alone on campus. Be it from a bar, between classes, to a parking lot, there are no safe areas on this campus.

This isn't just a matter of sexual assault. This is a matter of physical assault, harassment and theft. Western, for the most part, is fairly safe. But not a week passes where the University Police Department isn't forced to investigate a break-in or other incident.

So what is the answer?

Personal responsibility has to rank highly on this list. Unfortunately, we live in a society which sees violence as a fact of life, not an abhorrence. Until society makes the decision to change that, members of the Western community have to make choices.

Not walking alone, using Foot Patrol or calling a cab. Staying away from the heavily-forested areas of campus. Even calling the police if you feel particularly uncomfortable. An ounce of prevention...

But the onus isn't just on the individual. The president's committee on the safety of women has suggested re-examining the cutbacks on the UPD and to augment Foot Patrol's resources.

It's a step in the right direction. The existence of the code blue emergency phones is another bonus on campus.

But the money has to come from somewhere. And it may come to pass that students will have to foot an even greater part of the bill either through increased tuition or ancillary fees.

That doesn't seem like much to help buy peace of mind for 32 per cent of this community.

Or should we say 8, 320 living, breathing people.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997