Uni to launch student safety initiative

Claire Diamond

A new student safety initiative will be launched on campus in the first semester in an attempt to lower crime rates in and around the university.

The group will be fronted by the Students’ Representative Council and University security staff and will target safety and crime at every level, from frequent crimes such as bike theft right up to serious but infrequent crimes such as rape and sexual assault.

The initiative, which is due to hold its first meeting in the first few weeks of this term, is yet to set out an official agenda but has explored a number of areas which relate to safety on and around campus; such as lighting, biking facilities and security staff deployment.

Following the sexual assault of a young female student at the end of last term, the committee hope to be involved in promoting a new anti-rape campaign devised by Strathclyde Police.

The campaign will attempt to shift the focus of prevention away from victims and towards perpetrators.

With most perpetrators of this type of sexual assault being men in the 18 – 27 age bracket – the incident involving the 19 year old GU student in March was committed by a 22 year old male – Strathclyde Police have welcomed the endorsement of the campaign by the SRC and campus security.

Jess McGrellis, SRC vice-president student support, commented that based on the information she had been passed on the campaign by Strathclyde Police, she felt that they had the potential to be ‘exceptionally influential’, with many agreeing that such a move is long overdue, including the University’s security team.

Gordon McKenzie, the University’s head of security, stressed that this was a precautionary measure designed to prevent crimes of this nature and reminded students that campus is in general, a safe place:

“Glasgow is a very safe university – ours is one of the safest campuses in the country – but we urge students not to be complacent with their own safety. The level of criminality in the West End is low, considering its population.With our campus having an average daily population of around 30,000 people – the same size as a small town – there are few crimes.”

The initiative also hopes to make headway in tackling more commonplace criminal activity which occurs on campus and the surrounding area, such as bicycle theft.

Martha Waldrop, Scottish Green Party member of the Glasgow City Council, offered advice to cyclists on making sure they weren’t a victim of bike theft.

She reiterated Strathclyde Police’s advice that cyclists should ensure they always double lock their bikes and have a picture of it along with the serial number.

Often, she explained, the police do not know who the bike belongs to and cannot match up bikes with owners.

She also pointed to ongoing campaigning by councillors to improve street lighting in the area which is notoriously poorly lit, from the University campus and in the area surrounding the Murano student residence.

Along with the SRC, the news has been welcomed by other student groups on campus.

Colum Fraser, President of the Queen Margaret Union, suggested that more campus security after dark would go a long way in deterring crime, stressing that despite budget cuts, safety should remain a primary concern.

He went on to say:

‘I’d like to see more of an emphasis from the University on the Unions as safe venues for going out. I still firmly believe that the Unions are better geared to looking after students – after all, they are members and stakeholders – not walking wallets – to us.’

All members of the group emphasised that the main way to avoid being the victim of a crime is to remain vigilant and avoid potentially dangerous situations.