Volume 96, Issue 13
Thursday September 19, 2002

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Open your eyes
Safety awareness is key

By Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

Paper cubes and coasters are the focus of a campus safety program this year at Western.

Nicole Nelson, VP-campus issues for the University Students' Council, is using cube-shaped paper notepads with the slogan "Love Safely; Care for your friends" as well as coasters that read "Watch your drink" as a method of raising campus awareness on sexual assault and date rape.

Written on the side of the notepads is a statistic stating one in five women will be sexually assaulted before leaving university. The cubes however, do not have any phone numbers or other contact information on them.

According to Nelson, the total cost of the cubes, which were distributed to all first-year students in residence, as well as through the off-campus Dons office, was $9,000. Another $600 was used to purchase approximately 6,000 coasters to be used at The Spoke and The Wave, she said.

The proposal for the paper cubes and coasters was presented by Nelson to the 14 members of the President's Committee for the Safety of Women on Campus. The committee later approved and funded the initiative as part of their $70,000 annual budget, said Jane O'Brien, chair of the PCSWC.

"The committee receives all kinds of different requests and we evaluate them based on criteria as well as by looking at exposure," O'Brien said, noting the committee distributes the funding in many different ways.

O'Brien noted two new emergency blue phones will also be added to Brescia University College and Huron University College, respectively. According to Nelson, $20,000 has also been budgeted by the committee for lights on campus, with the main campus and the affiliate colleges receiving $5,000 each.

"I think [the notepads and coasters] are effective, because it goes to where the students are and they stay around for a long time," Nelson said, noting the intention was to raise awareness about sexual assault as quickly as possible on campus.

"The Women's Issues Network very heavily supports this initiative," said WIN co-ordinator Erin McCloskey. "What these coasters and cubes do is that they create an awareness that lights don't."

"I think that safety is a very important issue, and women need to be aware," said Sarah Firth, Brescia Students' Council president, adding daily reminders such as these can help raise awareness.

"I think they're a part of an overall effort to raise awareness about campus safety," said USC President Chris Sinal, noting he trusted the judgment of the funding committee with regards to the initiative.

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2002 THE GAZETTE