|Students need protection from sexual assault|
|Written by Aisys Adona|
|Thursday, 08 December 2011|
Safety should remain a primary concern for post-secondary campuses
After three cases of sexual assault on campus were reported at Carleton University in the span of a month, the question of tighter security and a call for a designated sexual assault protection centre has been brought to the forefront. This concern isn’t solely limited to Carleton, but for every post-secondary campus in the city.
With a responsibility to provide staff and students with a safe work and learning environment, it is in the best interest of each educational institution to consider upgrading their current security with services geared more towards preventing sexual assault.
Students are accustomed to spending long hours on campus for classes, extracurricular activities or simply because it’s a more productive environment for them to work in. It’s not uncommon for them to finally leave at late hours and walk alone to their cars in the parking lot or to the bus station, making them vulnerable to attacks that could be avoided with a little more attention to detail.
Unfortunately, Ottawa has seen its fair share of sexual assaults in recent years. An assault in 2007 that resulted in a 23-year-old woman getting beaten unconscious prompted Carleton to enhance its security units. The extra cameras, on-site patrol and emergency phones around campus cost the university $1.6 million and may have bolstered their efforts for a little while, but attackers are clearly still slipping through the cracks and preying on innocent people.
The argument could be made that schools are carrying out every measure of safety and precaution in order to ensure that people who walk through their halls and across their campuses are protected. However, if attacks continue to happen and students find it hard to feel completely safe within grounds that are supposed to be secure, it becomes difficult for everyone to move forward and trust in a system that appears to still have a few holes.
With the addition of the new Algonquin Centre for Construction Excellence (ACCE), students now fortunately have a more direct path to the Baseline OC Transpo station that doesn’t force them to walk by themselves along dark paths. Instead, they’re still walking through the halls of the well-lit school and through the new skywalk bridge that gets them safely across the Woodroffe campus. But is that enough when women are getting followed into washrooms or empty classrooms?
Along with the number of security cameras stationed around the school, Algonquin’s Walk Safe program is another service available 24 hours a day and seven days a week that provides a security escort to anyone wanting to get across campus and feels threatened or like they’re at any sort of risk.
While Algonquin doesn’t have underground tunnels to worry about like Carleton or the University of Ottawa, that doesn’t mean it should soften up or worry less about their security tactics. A smaller campus and student population doesn’t make it any less likely that bad things will happen.
The main characteristic of a sexual assault is that it can happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time of the day, making the old adage of “better safe than sorry” the approach everyone should be taking.