Volume 94, Issue 52

Thursday, November 30, 2000


Campus under lock and key - Students still urged to exercise caution

Walkin' safe - think about it

Western students cautious at night

Walkin' safe - think about it

By Molly Duignan
Campus & Culture Editor

A walk in the park at nine o'clock in the evening is no longer the relaxing jaunt it was back in the day.

Not that I come from a necessarily huge or crime-free city, but I think I can speak for a large majority of people who think Western, and London in general, is a pretty safe place.

But I am speaking naively when I assume incidents such as the recent series of sexual assaults at York University "won't happen to me." Despite my knowledge of what happened at York, I have yet to use Western's own Foot Patrol to guarantee my own safety when walking on campus at night.

Formed in 1989, Foot Patrol was considered a necessity due to campus crime. Since Foot Patrol began, on-campus crime has decreased 40 per cent, and the general attitude is that campus is generally a safer place. In its opening year, Foot Patrol had 1,200 volunteers and was extremely busy.

So why is it that I (and I'm sure many others) don't bother to make the call to use Foot Patrol? Perhaps it's the false sense of security we have, thinking our campus is inhabited and used by others similar to us, students, faculty and staff.

But by the nature of our campus, we need to realize the people walking around aren't necessarily just minding their own business.

At York, it wasn't a fellow student who repeatedly sexually assaulted female students along dark pathways on campus. Here at Western, it isn't necessarily a student or staff member whom you pass walking on campus at night, so we shouldn't trust everyone as being genuinely innocent as we journey from place to place on campus.

Although the use of Foot Patrol has gone up 100 per cent since last year, it is not as if the entire female population at Western makes use of it.

Coming from a person living amidst the slums of downtown London, I know I shouldn't walk around alone at night – but I do. I know there is always the possibility of something bad happening, but I think it's easier on everyone if the majority of us don't live a paranoid and fearful existence.

We should arrange with friends to meet after night class to walk home together, we should remember to get someone to walk with us downtown at night, and we should really utilize the services available to us at school and in our community.

But a million "shoulds" won't make anyone really change how they live. Instead, I at least think we have to acknowledge that it can happen to you, but at least there are alternatives.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000