After a chat with Terrence Zeniuk, Manager of Security Services at Mount Royal University (MRU) in Calgary.
So why is it that so many of us are oblivious to the dangers that exist?
Well according to Zeniuk it seems that we’ve ended up creating this ideal picture of our campuses in our heads – we go there every day, we hang out with our friends and we go to class. We tend to view it as a safe place, a world of its own away from the city at large, and so it becomes like a second home (especially for those of you living on campus). But Zeniuk tells us that our campus is just as dangerous as anywhere else out there.
“I think that sometimes students perceive the campus to be an area that is isolated from the community at large and criminal activity. The fact is there is no wall or moat that prevents individuals with ill intent from entering the campus,” Zeniuk said.
“There is more going on behind the scenes than you might guess. I would say that campus is like a small city, and has many of the social issues a small city would have.”
And just like any other city/community the risks of danger tend to rise once darkness falls.
But what if you don’t stay late on campus? You’ve got nothing to worry about, right? Well it might be wise to rethink that because “students should always be cautious.”
In fact, during exam period is a time that people should be extra cautionary because when we’re all so stressed and tired we might end up compromising our safety or remaining unaware of the dangers that are around us.
So what does Zeniuk recommend? Well he says that the three most basic tips for safety on and off campus are:
Don’t leave your electronics unattended. Laptops do get stolen
While it might seem easier to just leave your stuff sitting in your little corner of the library. Leaving your items around (especially during exam time) means that they are at risk of being stolen and there is nothing worse than imagining what life would be like if you lost all of the notes and assignments you have been working on all semester as result of a simple thoughtless act. Don’t attract attention by leaving your laptop and books sprawled at your desk in the library or at any workstation around campus. Take the extra five minutes and pack your stuff up or if you’re studying with a friend, ask them to look after it until you come back. Better to be safe than sorry.
Travel in pairs (especially during night time hours)
Walking alone anywhere at night is never a good idea and around campus is no different. Walking alone may make you seem vulnerable, especially if you are a girl, and so increases your chance of being involved in foul play. Try to find a friend to walk with you or tag on closely behind with another group of people. Try to stay away from uninhabited areas, dark corners or areas that have a lot of trees. If that means taking a longer way to your dorm or car, do it — you can thank me later!
If you don’t have anyone to travel with, contact Security Services and request a safe walk
Most universities now offer a safe walk service where a trained volunteer or security member will accompany you on your travels anywhere around campus. Often they will have some direct dial phones scattered around campus where you can contact them, but why not save their number to your phone as well – you never know when it might come in handy! Why take the risk? Zeniuk explained, if you’re travelling to and from school by bus or taxi – talk to your safe walk team before and they will happily escort you to and from your transport.
Some of this may seem like common sense to you but with campus crime becoming increasingly prominent in the news it is certainly necessary to talk all the precautions.
And if you’re thinking, “Oh, that’ll never happen to me, I can take care of myself,” I wouldn’t be too sure. I bet that’s what all the other people who have been victims of this type of crime said too.
As Zeniuk said, “There are so many different situational possibilities that it is difficult to address exactly what to look for. Students should trust their instincts and call Security Services on any situation that does not ‘fit’ or looks suspicious.”
But we don’t mean to scare you. As Zeniuk said we’re not trying to make you paranoid but as part of the MRU or any campus community you need to be vigilant of people that might be involved in suspicious or illegal activity.
So hopefully we’ve taught you a little more about how to stay safe on campus especially throughout this busy and stressful time. However, it is important to remember that keeping campus safe for others is as important as staying self yourself.