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How safe is Dal at night?

Dal is feeling unsafe at night. Photo via Flickr Maxwell GS

Recent events make safety on campus a cause for concern

Dalhousie no longer feels incredibly safe at night. Walking alone in downtown Halifax after dark is something I always felt I should avoid. But now I am beginning to feel the same about walking around campus too.

When I first arrived at Dal, I was skeptical about how safe it might be. It was definitely a culture shock coming from a small town where the biggest news stories usually involved agriculture, not attacks or shootings. At the beginning of my second year at Dal, I began to feel more secure and at home. However, recent events have reminded me that this is not the time to let my guard down.

There are times when crossing campus after sunset is necessary for me in order to attend extracurricular activities and evening lectures, and now with the time change, I find myself walking in the pitch black at 5:30 p.m. I keep my cellphone accessible and walk quickly, but I wish it didn’t have to be this way.

I like to remind myself that security is around if I need assistance, but in the last two months I’ve seen Dal Security patrolling only once after dark. It may be my decision to participate in extracurricular activities, but it is mandatory to attend my evening lectures. I should not have to feel even slightly insecure walking to or from any scholarly activities or to my home residence, which, like the rest of campus, is beginning to feel less and less safe.

The recent attack on a King’s College student outside Risley Hall, mentioned Oct. 8 in the Gazette, has left me feeling paranoid until the door of my residence has swung shut behind me and locked into place.

Then there is the night watcher. Since I first heard about this creep in September 2009, my blinds have remained closed at all times and doors locked. It makes me more nervous to know that, according to a Gazette article published Sept. 22, a suspect in the night watcher case was caught but subsequently released due to a lack of supporting evidence. Perhaps I am being unreasonable and will never personally experience any kind of assault on campus, but each one of these events reminds me that it could have been me or someone I know being the victim of these attacks.

The Tiger Patrol service was originally developed to supply students with a safe way to get home. The service includes a shuttle bus that can pick up or drop off students in various parts of Halifax. Until recently a walk-home service was also provided. But the service was abandoned because students were not using it frequently enough for the cost to be worthwhile to the university, according to an article published on Sept. 23 in the Gazette.

I agree that if students do not make use of the facilities offered to them it is not to the university’s advantage to keep them in operation. But in the case of the Tiger Patrol’s walk-home service, some students did rely on the service, so it would have been beneficial to install a new service before removing the original one (I wasn’t even aware the service existed until it was cancelled, or else I would have used it regularly). Dalhousie is contemplating establishing a voluntary, student-operated walk-home service, creating another much-needed opportunity for students to maintain their safety when travelling on foot at night. In the event that this service is put in place, let’s make use of it.

In a time where safety is a concern to everyone, it really is in our best interest.

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