University responds to recent assaults

After a series of violent incidents that have taken place in and around the downtown Brantford area in the past month, Laurier Brantford is urging students who have any concerns, questions, or comments to come forth to any of the services available.

“We have an open door policy – we want to know what is going on with students,” said External Relations Coordinator, Kevin Klein. “Having students talk about their concerns and give us the information – the door is always open.”

The university and the services available to students include Foot Patrol, which is currently looking to hire 25 more student volunteers (a total of 75 people), Special Constables and Brantford Police, as well as any faculty member.

Foot Patrol is currently undergoing some changes to refine and streamline their procedures, such as ensuring that all active volunteers wear the same jackets, to assist in becoming more visible to students.

The Special Constables and the university are actively trying to determine if there are certain times, days, or locations that are the most problematic for students – “during those times, we will become more visible…people who do bad things don’t like to be harassed,” said Klein.

Klein also made note of certain projects that the university is expecting to spearhead for 2010, including a possible partnership with Crimestoppers Brantford. The discussions to launch this cooperative effort are still in process.

The Security Advisory Council, made up of Special Constables, Director of Campus Operations, Tony Araujo, Director of Student Services, David Prang, faculty staff, and students, has been running for two years and will be starting up again in January.

“The Council is not launching as a result of what has happened, but they are taking the suggestions as a launching point,” Klein reiterated.

The City of Brantford is also taking a special interest in the safety of the students at Laurier. The Safety and Crime Taskforce is a citywide effort in which Councilor John Bradford, senior leaders across the city, and four Laurier representatives take suggestions on how to make the city safer, as well as look at areas of concerns and how to make them better. For example, improved lighting and police presence in the downtown core.

“If we don’t know the areas of concern, we cannot address them,” said Klein.

“We know there is chatter among the students about these incidents, but we want them to come forward and make those concerns heard.”

Special Constables are not available 24/7, but are always on call. If an incident occurs when they are off-duty, the Constables are expected to be at the scene within five minutes of being called.
Klein spoke of some tips students should utilize to better their safety – stay in groups, know your situation, call a cab, and plan ahead if possible. Get to a ‘Safe Place’ and call the Special Constables.

“We want to encourage students to get the facts and talk to the right person,” said Klein.
“We will tell students whatever we can, we aren’t keeping anything under the rug, just let us
know, and we will take the appropriate actions,” stated Klein.

Safe Place Program

Currently the university has 17 locations that students can go to and ask for help. This program is modeled after the Block Parent Program where if students feel unsafe, they can go into a ‘Safe Place’ and ask a staff member to contact the Special Constable services.

The ‘Safe Place’ Program provides immediate assistance and is designed to promote increased safety of all students, staff, and faculty. Partners with this program will have a sign displayed in the window of their business for easy recognition.

A staff member in one of these locations will not contact Special Constable services until the student asks them to.

“Until you say, contact Special Constable services, nothing can be done,” said Klein.
Students can wait in that ‘Safe Place’ until the Special Constables arrive and will walk you home.

With so many preventative and protective measures in place to ensure the safety of its students, Laurier Brantford as a whole remains hopeful for the present and future.

“We want to do whatever is going to make our campus the safest it can be,” said Klein.

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