The number of security incidents reported at the University of Alberta went down in the second quarter of this year, according to a report presented to the school’s audit and risk committee on Sept. 23.
Between the first and second quarters of 2019, the total number of security incidents decreased from 499 to 450.
The number of security incidents — which include theft, break and enters, mischief, assaults, robbery, harassment, weapons complaints, indecent acts, trespassing, gaming, liquor and cannabis, and mental health — were measured for Q2 2019, between April 1 and June 30.
In April, the University of Alberta announced it would be taking steps to boost security at the HUB Mall and residence after recommendations from a crime-prevention review.
Security concerns were raised at the mall and residence at the Edmonton campus. HUB Mall is a public retail space that also houses about 800 students on a six-floor residence. Prior to the changes, the building was open 24/7.
Over the summer, the university made changes to the 100 interior and exterior doors at HUB, installing key locks on the ground level and adding card access at the mall level. A ONE card can be used at six main access points on the lower level exterior of HUB and every other door and stairwell requires a physical key to access, so only residents living there can get in.
“The change in culture now, with having all the doors locked, is providing a greater sense of safety and security for the HUB community and really changed the dynamic inside there,” said Jared Larsen, vice president of Student Life at the U of A, in an interview with Ryan Jespersen.
“We’re seeing a significant decrease in incident rates in HUB itself. It’s been a very positive start.”
READ MORE: Students in University of Alberta’s HUB call for security boost
Larsen said locking the doors is a good first step but he’s hoping to see more security measures added.
“We’re all eager to work with the university to fulfill this whole report and see everything that came from it, which included better signage and maintenance of the greenery areas around HUB Mall with better lighting… The first step is done by locking the doors and then on to the future pieces of this report.”
In April, Robert Pawliuk, director of operations for facilities at the U of A, said the security enhancements would be done in a phased approach. He said a committee would also look at overall safety and security at all of the university’s campuses.
Future safety recommendations included in the report were video camera surveillance, improved lighting, improved wayfinding and signage.
“I do think the campus can do a better job with increasing lighting or cameras,” Larsen said.
“The security presence on campus is fairly strong at night. We do have patrolled officers going around quite a few of the more heavily concentrated areas but I think more can be done.”
He said the Students’ Union is working with the university through various committees to improve safety.
READ MORE: University of Alberta to fund safety improvements at HUB Mall
So far in 2019, four of the 24 reported assaults have been sexual assaults.
“The statistics of it — it definitely opens our eyes to other opportunities of where we can work to make sure our campuses are safe,” Larsen said.
The last two quarters of 2018 saw 18 assaults.
Watch below (Sept. 14, 2017): For the very first time, the University of Alberta is publicly releasing numbers related to sexual violence. Julia Wong has the details.
Larsen noted there are a number of programs meant to support student safety, including Safewalk — a program provided by the Students’ Union that escorts people walking across campus — and resident assistance on shift — which is provided by Residence Services to support students living in residences. Larsen said a safe-riding program is also being considered to educate students about protecting themselves while using ride-sharing services like Uber.
The Q2 2019 update noted a “notable increase in bike thefts in 2019” and more incidents related to gaming, liquor and cannabis.
Larsen speculated on the reason for the rise in bike thefts.
“We’re seeing a higher number of students who are biking to school now, which is great — environmentally friendly.
“I would just say the best things those students can do to make sure their bikes are safe is to … lock it properly but also even potentially look at the new double U-lock system.”
The university report also said campus Protective Services have “increased patrols in targeted areas.”
Watch below (Sept. 13, 2018): While the University of Alberta plans to create designated pot-smoking zones, NAIT used its smoke-free campus policy as a jumping off point to its new impairment policy. Kent Morrison explains.
The university’s report attributed the uptick in cannabis-related incidents (19 in Q2 2019) to the recent legalization of recreational cannabis. Larson agrees, saying he believes it’s mostly people figuring out where they can and cannot consume cannabis on campus.
“The schools out east are becoming smoke free and we’re investigating the feasibility of that on our campus and looking at what that might look like,” Larsen said. “But nothing in terms of a tangible answer has really come from the university on that.”
U of A Health and Safety Indicator Report – For Q2 2019 by Emily Mertz on Scribd
— with files from Caley Ramsay
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