The University of British Columbia is working actively to improve safety on its Vancouver Point Grey campus as students head back to school for the Winter Term that starts September 2.
Important improvements include:
• Investments in lighting and landscaping, resulting in more open, well-lit walking routes through campus;
• Strengthening of the UBC students’ Alma Mater Society Safewalk program, with added support from the university;
• Additional coverage of UBC Campus Security bike patrols;
• Development of new safety communication features for the Mobile UBC application
“UBC’s Vancouver campus has been and continues to be a very safe place to live, work and study and we are committed to tangible, practical safety improvements,” said UBC President Arvind Gupta. “We also agree with safety experts that ultimately the best crime prevention is a caring, connected and respectful community. This is why we’ll also be focusing over the long term on education and community building initiatives.”
The university is acting on the recommendations of a campus safety working group that was established following a series of sexual assaults in 2013. After receiving community input, the working group issued its final report on May 30, 2014.
Over the next month UBC will heighten safety information to the community through its student communications and orientation activities. Long-term actions include a range of educational and awareness-building activities, better collection, tracking and monitoring of safety data, and improved coordination of communications, police and victim support services.
“The campus is more like a suburb of 60,000 people than a contained area,” said Ben Goold, a UBC law professor who specializes in security and surveillance, and a member of the safety working group. “Long term, we must focus on actions that foster a truly engaged and connected community. That is ultimately the best deterrent.”
As recommended in the report, UBC will consult with campus stakeholders and security experts regarding the use of CCTV cameras at main entry points to the Point Grey campus. Further investigation is needed on CCTV cameras, since research evidence indicates low crime prevention effectiveness in environments such as the UBC Vancouver campus.
UBC investments in enhanced safety for the UBC Vancouver campus include:
• $750,000 in lighting and landscaping enhancements encompassing upgrades to existing lighting systems, using higher luminosity bulbs, installation of additional light fixtures, and pruning of trees and vegetation along paths and around light standards.
• $250,000 for education programs, exploration of CCTV options, and the development of communications tools that include mobile phone application safety features that will facilitate access to services and programs.
Changes to the AMS Safewalk program include:
• Inclusion of vehicular transportation, piloted earlier this year, will now be part of the service;
• New hub system to improve visibility for the service;
• UBC Campus Security to provide back-up during peak times and after hours;
• Expansion to year-round service, covering all holiday periods.