The University of British Columbia released today its Point Grey Campus Safety Working Group interim report and recommendations. Vice President, Students Louise Cowin appointed the team last November to address safety concerns following a series of six sexual assaults that took place on campus from April to October 2013.
The proposed recommendations cover priorities including lighting, programming, and communications. The report also recommends an immediate community dialogue on the expansion of electronic surveillance on campus.
“This is a safe campus by any measure,” said Cowin. “Any action we take following community consultation will build on a strong foundation of programs, services and community relationships.”
UBC’s campus on the Point Grey peninsula is notably different from most universities in Canada, because of its size, location and diversity of communities, a fact which is reflected in the recommendations put forward in the report.
“A safe campus is one where the entire community cares and therefore is motivated to act,” said Benjamin Goold, UBC professor of law specializing in surveillance and security issues, and member of the working group. “Education, engagement and dialogue are all critical to fostering this.”
UBC Vancouver students, faculty and staff who study, work and live on the Point Grey campus will be able to provide feedback online until February 25. Face to face consultation will also be held with community stakeholders. Feedback will inform university decisions, with initial commitments to be announced in March 2014.
The UBC Point Grey Campus Safety Report:
The report’s recommendations were put forward after careful study of the Point Grey campus’ existing environment, consideration of best practices among comparable universities and initial community suggestions. Recommendations are offered in the following areas:
- Cameras on Campus
- Promoting a Safe, Caring, and Respectful Campus Community
- University and RCMP Partnership
- Communication Tools
- Mobility and Visibility on Campus
The Point Grey Campus Safety working group:
The working group evolved from an ad-hoc committee brought together to respond to the six sexual assaults that took place on campus from April to October 2013. Membership includes representation from Campus Security, Student Conduct and Safety, Access & Diversity, Human Resources, Campus and Community Planning, the Alma Mater Society, Student Housing and Hospitality Services and faculty members.
Consultations and follow up actions:
The UBC Vancouver student, faculty and staff community on the Point Grey campus is invited to comment on the report’s recommendations made public today. Community feedback will be received until February 25, 2014 and will inform the university’s action plan.
The UBC Vancouver Point Grey campus situation and priorities will continue to evolve therefore the consultation process starting today is part of an ongoing dialogue to guide continuous improvement. The working group puts forth two overarching recommendations:
- Immediate Term: Conduct consultation with community members on the recommendations presented in the report, asking both broadly framed and specific questions that will assist in the implementation of actions.
- Ongoing: Establish a standing task force to meet every two years to review matters of safety and security on campus, intentionally engage in dialogue and community consultation through this process, and bring key stakeholders together to deepen the partnership and collaboration required to focus on personal and community safety and security.
Recommendations for immediate action:
Recommendations in the report are earmarked for immediate action or for medium-term implementation (six months to one year). The following sums up recommendations for immediate action:
Cameras on Campus:
The University will seek community input on the expansion of electronic surveillance on campus at key entry and exit points, including the main transit hubs, for the purpose of recording individuals and vehicles coming on to campus, and the investigation of crimes and other serious incidents after the fact. As part of this process, the university will develop a clear policy to address the implementation and appropriate use of CCTV camera surveillance, taking into account all relevant privacy considerations.
Click here to read a Q&A with UBC Law professor Benjamin Goold about the complex issue of bringing cameras to campus.
UBC and RCMP Partnership:
- Human Resources, Student Services, and the RCMP are to develop a coordinated approach to communicating safety notices, as well as services, resources and support services for victims of crime on campus.
- UBC Campus Security and RCMP are to regularly exchange data and information on incidents of personal security and campus safety.
- UBC should maintain its ‘blue phone’ service until a new strategy has been fully considered and an action plan is in place.
- A campus team is to lead the development and implementation of a mobile phone application (for students, staff, and faculty).
Mobility and Visibility on Campus
- Continue to improve visibility and mobility on campus by responding to changing vegetation, landscaping and daylight hours. Campus and Community Planning staff will continue to work with university partners to improve infrastructure maintenance and service levels, with safety as a key consideration for all public realm improvements.
- The VP Students, Campus Security, and the Alma Mater Society will strike a team to consider the program development and resources required to improve the Safewalk Program, with a report due by September 2014.
- The VP Students, Campus Security and the AMS – Safewalk Program will develop a strategy for summer operations. For Term II, Safewalk will continue its extended hours of operation from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday – Thursday and 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. Friday – Saturday, in partnership with UBC Campus Security.
Working Group report: http://vpstudents.ubc.ca/2014/02/07/improving-campus-safety/
UBC statements, releases and actions related to 2013 sexual assaults: http://www.ubc.ca/staysafe/