Initiatives zero in on safety

Better campus lighting responds to students' requests

Personal safety at UBC is getting a boost with the addition of lighting upgrades, emergency phones and signage--all thanks to the Safer Campus Initiative.

Now in its fifth year, the program uses funds from B.C.'s Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology to improve safety on campus.

"We concentrate on what we've heard from students and the consistent message is a request for better lighting," says David Grigg, associate director of Planning in Land and Building Services.

About $300,000 has been spent on new and upgraded lighting that will bring a lower and more consistent level of light to well-travelled areas.

The aim is to bring both bright glaring lights and inadequate dim lights to a level equivalent to very bright moonlight, says Grigg. The program has improved about 20 per cent of lighting on campus.

Six additional blue light outdoor emergency phones have been installed at a cost of about $100,000. There are 19 such phones on campus and the goal is to have 50 phones in place by 2005.

Blue light phones are installed at major intersections at UBC and can be used to call directly to UBC Security or to call 911 to get assistance or report a crime. Once activated, the blue light starts to flash rapidly or strobe, acting as a visual siren.

Local call telephones have also been added in research labs and other areas where people may be working alone at night. The Safer Campus Initiative funds the capital cost of installation.

Grigg also notes that directional signs are considered a vital part of the infrastructure for nighttime campus users. A campus sign plan is currently being prepared for comment.

Incidents of personal crimes at UBC reported to the RCMP in 1999 showed decreases in virtually all categories--indecent acts, assault and sexual assault. There was one reported robbery or mugging in 1998; two such acts were reported to the RCMP in 1999.

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