Some staff and students at the University of Manitoba feel “perfectly” safe on campus while others feel that more should be done to keep individuals better informed when crime does occur.
Ramona Garbald, a former student who’s currently working on campus said that she feels safe on campus during the day but “not anytime else.”
Garbald said that as a student she never walked alone around campus late at night and often heard stories of other students having their cars broken into.
According to U of M spokesperson John Danakas, U of M Security Services (UMSS) reviews its safety and security related statistics on a daily basis and “targets those areas where there has been an increase of criminal activity.”
While current statistics were unavailable at press time, Danakas confirmed that there have been a number of break-ins within the south zone of the Fort Garry campus over the past year. According to Danakas, an individual was arrested and charged by the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS).
Danakas said that more recently there has been an unrelated and isolated incident in the Agriculture building involving a reported physical assault. He said that this matter is still being investigated by the WPS.
In light of these incidents, Danakas said that measures have been taken to improve security in the area and include a security audit, student patrols coordinated by UMSS as well as changes to the times buildings close.
“Security has met with staff and students in the building to discuss security related matters and remind users of the services provided by [UMSS] as well as to offer personal safety recommendations.”
Danakas said that UMSS has also installed more security cameras on campus as a means to ensure the safety of individuals in areas such as the tunnels or parking lots.
Services already provided by UMSS include Code Blue stations that provide two-way communication between individuals and UMSS as well as the Safewalk program, offering individuals safe, escorted walks to their vehicle. Both services are available at all times.
Garbald said that she has utilized services such as Safewalk and feels that it is a good idea but also feels UMSS should do more patrolling of campus or more advertising of the services they offer.
Garbald said that up until recently, when her car’s tire was damaged, she hasn’t been involved in any security incidents on campus.
“I just walked out [to the parking lot last week] and [my tire] was completely flat. There was this huge screw in it. [ . . . ] Had I driven over it, it would have been forced but it looked like someone had actually screwed it in.”
Garbald said that during this same time there was another individual in the parking lot who approached her and asked if she, like him, had had her windows smashed.
“He said everything [in his car] was stolen.”
When Garbald called U of M Security Services and informed them that someone had damaged her tire and that a second vehicle in the parking lot had been broken into, she says UMSS told her there was nothing they could do, and wouldn’t come to check her tire, but told her she could come to their offices and write a police report.
“I never went because there’s no point,” she said, referring back to a discouraging experience she previously had with UMSS.
Garbald said during a previous summer she had a bike stolen while on campus and, at that time, she went to fill out a report. Having asked UMSS if they would inform her if anything was found, Garbald said UMSS told her there wasn’t anything they would be able to do about it.
“When you actually need their help, they won’t do anything. [ . . . ] But that’s just campus [security], I honestly don’t expect any more.”
Danakas stated that although he couldn’t speak to Garbald’s experience directly, UMSS will always take a report if there’s an incident on campus, and will get the WPS involved if an incidence requires them to do so.
“They get a lot of positive feedback about what they’re able to do for members of the campus community, in terms of being proactive and following up on particular incidences,” said Danakas.
Ben Carriere, a third year Science student, said he feels “perfectly” safe on campus and only once had to contact UMSS for assistance.
“Once I had to get a jump from [UMSS] when I left my lights on but that’s about it.”
However, Carriere said he would like UMSS to provide more information so that he could stay better informed about security incidents on campus.
“More information is always a good thing,” he said.
Danakas said that students are able to sign up on JUMP, allowing them to receive texts messages that will alert them to emergencies on campus. He said that as necessary, UMSS shares information with students and student groups regarding security related incidents that may be specific to certain areas or buildings on campus.
“The crime rate on campus is low compared to the surrounding area. Most crimes on campus are crimes of opportunity. [UMSS] reminds members of the university community to ensure they are aware of there surroundings, to report promptly suspicious persons or activities to Security Services [ . . . ] and to generally use prudent judgment.”