I walk this lonely road…
Despite safe campus initiatives, there is a lot to be desired for feeling safe at night
LAURA MELCZER // CONTRIBUTOR
Walking at night, especially for women, can be a dangerous game. The feeling of insecurity is next to none. Sometimes it’s enough for someone to put their keys between two fingers and run to an area that is well lit and secure. Being alone, walking at night has threats around every corner. And that feeling comes no matter where a person is. Universities are made to be safe spaces for exploring new ideas while gaining the skills and tools to conquer the workforce.
Unfortunately reality isn’t that pretty. Many universities have had reports of assaults on campus grounds and Capilano University can be intimidating when it’s dark after a night class. What also needs to be considered is more than the intellectual safety of students and faculty. There needs to be the discussion and action of how to keep the people on campus safe and secure as physical threats still persist. The feeling of physical safety is just as important as the feeling of intellectual safety as students explore theory and practice at CapU. The discussions and policies in place around keeping people at CapU safe needs to increase, especially when it comes to students staying late on campus.
There are programs in place to help those walking at night feel secure on campus. The SafeWalk program provides a campus security guard to walk with anyone who requests it to their destination within the limits of the North Van campus. On the Capilano Security website, there is also a brief description about having a buddy system for studying outside of regular class hours. Those initiatives are necessary and useful to have in place. However, there needs to be something more tangible to counteract the feeling of being unsafe at night. For people walking to their car after burning the midnight oil, there is a responsibility to keep them safe. And that includes protocols that people will actually use.
Practically, the SafeWalk program isn’t well known or publicized. People also don’t want to be seen as “that person”, meaning that often the discomfort or fear of walking alone at night is disregarded because the potential threat isn’t always perceived as important. Even if the SafeWalk program becomes more popular, there will be issues with the small number of security personnel available to walk people to their cars compared to the potentially large numbers of people who would want to utilize the service.
The SafeWalk program is a start, but there needs to be more. Increasing the number of lights on pathways to parking lots could go a long way in making students feel safer on that long dark walk to their car. Having more security telephones along pathways could make people feel more secure walking alone. Recreation activities, such as self-defense classes, are fun, active, and provide information about how to protect yourself. Making the campus safer for everyone doesn’t need to include large-scale changes. There are practical, cost-efficient solutions to make people feel comfortable walking around campus at night – because skipping night classes or not enrolling in them because it doesn’t feel safe shouldn’t be an option.