Volume 96, Issue 13
Thursday September 19, 2002

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Paper thin plan

Women's safety issues are always a pertinent topic and Western should pay particular attention to them.

The 14-member President's Committee for the Safety of Women on Campus is making progress by implementing two new emergency blue phones at Brescia University College and Huron University College respectively.

There is also good news for women who feel uncomfortable travelling around campus after dark. The committee is setting aside a substantial amount of $20,000 toward putting up more lights on campus with the money being divided evenly among main campus and the three affiliate colleges.

The PCSWC also approved a plan to produce paper notepads, each with the statement, "Number of women that will be sexually assaulted before leaving university," followed by the statistic "1 in 5" at the bottom. As well, 6,000 drink coasters with the slogan "watch your drink" were approved.

That is all well and good until you consider the project cost the PCSWC $9,000 to create enough notepads to distribute to every first-year student on campus. This amount represents nearly 13 per cent of the committee's annual budget – and it was spent on blocks of paper.

Acknowledging and raising awareness of campus safety issues is a noble cause. However, spending $9,000 out of a $70,000 annual budget on notepads that contain nothing but some extremely vague rhetoric is of little value to students at Western.

Knowing that one in five women will be sexually assaulted before leaving university is something people should be made aware of, but printing the statistic on notepads doesn't take adequate steps toward curbing the problem.

The notepads are disposable, so the message on the sides of the cubes all but disappears as the sheets are torn off piece by piece. The shelf life of these notepads is, at best, one year. The only way a notepad is going to last that long is if the students receiving the pad quickly disregard it and relegate it to the back of their desks.

Placing signs which list important telephone numbers (victim help-lines, etc.) in visible places on campus could act as a useful information tool. A poster campaign or providing the finances to offer more counseling for victims would also seem to be a far more fruitful way to spend $9,000.

While the decision had already been made, it is still disappointing that not one single USC council member questioned the validity of the project or raised questions at last Wednesday's meeting about whether this endeavor would have the same impact as other potential options.

There is no doubt progress has been made in the area of women's safety and the paper notepads were made with the best of intentions.

The problem is good intentions alone will fail to raise awareness for women's safety issues – a little innovation is required.






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