Revisiting safety on campus

What’s already in place and further protection

The SafeWalk and SafeRide options at U of W have been supplemented with the UW Safe app.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

Students all around campus may see more security personnel patrolling the buildings on the University of Winnipeg (U of W) campus.

There has been an increase in security personnel of one-third as of November 2017 during the day and evening, as a result of recent attacks (including stabbings that happened in November) Kevin Rosen, U of W’s executive director of marketing and communications, says.

The UW Safe app launched in September 2017, and the SafeWalk and SafeRide programs, which are collaborations between the security services and University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA), are available from 6 to 11:30 p.m. as another safety option for students.

Miranda Black, a student at the U of W, says how safe she feels on campus depends on what time she’s there.

“During the day I’m fine, especially when I’m on campus, walking between buildings. If I’m walking to Richardson or something, then it’s a little sketchy, but it’s fine. But when I have a night class, I’m more paranoid,” Black says.

According to Laura Garinger, president of the UWSA, the definition of safety can vary.

“I think one of the things the UWSA is most worried about is having an open and welcoming campus … When things (the attacks) first started happening, and the university was talking about locking different areas, the consultations that we had with some students, they said ‘I don’t feel comfortable having security guards watching me all the time,’ and ‘I don’t feel like I'm welcome here if the doors are being locked on me,’” Garinger says.

The UW Safe app is available on smartphones and is free for all students, faculty and staff in the App Store or Google Play.

Rosen says that nearly 1,700 students, their parents, faculty and staff of the U of W have at least downloaded the app on their devices. Black says she doesn’t use the app and hasn’t heard of it before.

“We do encourage students to download it even if it’s just to get the notifications when they need it,” Garinger says. “There are some features that are helpful, like the Friend Walk, the little GPS that follows you around as you walk home. You just have a friend or family member to watch it.”

The university has taken steps to try and help everyone working on campus feel safer. Garinger believes the university is doing the best that they can.

“In regards to safety, you put on that downtown mentality and move on. I hope they can make the change, but at the same time it's not entirely on them,” Black says. “It’s the WPS (Winnipeg Police Service), and it’s the Downtown Watch doing their SafeWalks, and it’s the downtown area in (general). It’s not fully up to the university, and they can’t do it alone.”

Published in Volume 72, Number 16 of The Uniter (February 1, 2018)

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