PLAYING IT SAFE ON CAMPUS

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By Victoria Scrozzo

The Ryerson Students’ Union equity committee conducted a safety audit Monday to assess potentially not secure areas on campus.

Clipboards in hand, three groups searched for safety hazards, noting areas where students could be vulnerable. “There’s nothing that someone has said ‘this is a concern,’ but there’s opportunity for people to identify areas of concern,” said Denise Hammond, equity and campaigns officer for the RSU.

The survey is a modified form of a community audit tailored to Ryerson. It asks volunteers to assess lighting, visibility of signs and maps, security and any dark shadowy areas or sharp corners that could be a risk to students. Ryerson Security conducts regular safety audits on campus and has specific standards as guidelines, such as standards for proper lighting. “Impromptu safety audits can get tricky because you don’t know what standards they are using,” said Lawrence Robinson, manager of Ryerson security and safety.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said RSU’s safety audit methods can be questionable. “If people are going around and giving us constructive advice, that is welcomed. My only concern is that the professional (safety audit) people have standards that may not be followed by this safety audit.” All three groups of surveyors noted that lighting on campus, a dim orange hue, could be brighter.Nick Gauthier, RSU’s arts faculty director, said his group found 12 exterior lights out on campus.

Another group noted that poor lighting made it difficult to read the Campus Safety and Security sign on Bond Street. Walking through the Quad, one group pointed out three lights that weren’t working. Two of the four security poles were hard to see because the bright blue lights that usually shine on top were burnt out. However, the Quad is statistically one of the safest areas on campus. “What I found is that incidents do not happen in a lot of places where you think they might,” Robinson said.

“Historically, these audits like to point at the Quad and say ‘this is bad’… Statistically, nothing really ever happens in the Quad.When you look at the pattern of where the robberies are occurring and where the assaults are occurring, you’d be hard pressed to find one that happens in the Quad… Those things happen on public streets… There really isn’t one dark corner of the campus that I can point at and say that’s where stuff happens.”

The results of the RSU audit will be looked at from a “security perspective” once they are available, Robinson said. The RSU hopes to compile the information it has gathered from the audit in a report and take its recommendations to administration and security in 2006.

Hammond said the administration has been responsive to concerns highlighted in previous RSU campus safety audits.

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