Last week I touched on the issue of safety on campus. I briefly mentioned ways that I felt our campus was not as safe as it could be. The fear of sexual harassment may not be an issue that only occurs on campus and not something that only happens at night, but it is something worth talking about.
I received two letters responding to my editorial, one from Mr. Whibbs who thinks I am overreacting and wrote very satirically, and the other from Ms. Lasachuk, the president of the Women and Gender Studies Action Group, who thinks my concerns are a little more justified and important to discuss.
Mr. Whibbs mentioned that he too has fears. He quips, “I, too, worry that I may be taken advantage of during my walk of 100 metres from a crowded, well-lit classroom to a crowded, well-lit bus platform.” Maybe he hasn’t seen the bus platform after 6:00 p.m., or maybe he doesn’t notice when lights are on or off.
In the news section of this week’s issue of The Medium we read about students who feel uncomfortable walking down the Five- Minute Walk since there are currently no lights on at night.
Since Ms. Lasachuk provides reasons why safety should be taken seriously on campus and answers to those who make jokes or ignorantly dismiss the problem, I would like to suggest a couple of ways that I think we could improve.
For one, let’s fix the lights on the Five-Minute Walk as soon as possible, since students who live on campus or have night classes have been complaining about it and with complete validity.
I realize we have a WalkSafer program, but it’s also a fact that there have been incidents where people tried to call and no one answered. In light of this I think we need to have more foot patrol seen on campus. Read the Campus Police summaries we print—just last week, several rooms on residence were broken into and laptops and other valuables were stolen.
The idea of increasing security may seem too simple or obvious, but when a student’s home was vandalized last month, there were people who didn’t want to talk about the problem and attempted to deal with it quietly behind closed doors. We have to start somewhere.
I would much rather see people in leadership positions take a step in the right direction and educate people about U of T’s policies on harassment, sexual harassment and ways to utilize these policies.
Perhaps conduct a safety report on campus to see where we can improve, and work with the university administration on making these changes take effect quickly.
Yes, some people will take it like a joke and dismiss it by saying that we are living in one of the safest cities in the country, but after you’re done laughing, the problem is still there and very real for many students.