Students take safety measures in stride

The University of Toronto says the campuses are safe and secure following the Dawson College shooting, but some students wonder

Sarah Skinner was descending in an elevator at her downtown University of Toronto campus in between classes.

The last thought on her mind was any new security measures being taken at her school. “They haven’t said anything specific to us,” Skinner said. “There was a bomb scare and no one even cared. We were on the elevator and someone came in and said, ‘Oh be careful, there’s a bomb scare outside.’ The whole block was blocked off and no one said anything.”

Skinner is a student at the U of T’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She says she suspects occurrences like this one are kept quiet to prevent panic from the students. She believes improved lockdown procedures are important, but senses there is little students can do to defend themselves.

“I don’t think there’s any way you can be prepared unless you have a vest on and swat gear on; there’s nothing you can do,” Skinner said.

In the wake of the Sept. 13 Dawson incident, the university has acknowledged that some are questioning the school’s own safety conditions.

Online statement to provide closure

The University of Toronto released a statement about security measures that have been in effect prior to the shooting.

“We recognize that Tuesday’s events prompted many members of our own community, and their families, to want to know more about U of T’s own approach to campus safety,” the statement read.

Elaine Smith is acting associate director of news services for the University of Toronto.

“At this university we take it very seriously and we do everything we can to make sure our student faculty and staff are safe,” Smith said. “We have a highly specialized team that respond to emergencies regularly.”

Smith said the first responders for any sort of break are the campus police. Fire service counselling, community safety and environmental safety officers are also ready to take charge in the event of a disaster. There are also crisis and emergency plans in place, which are tested regularly.

“We encourage students to familiarize themselves in all our safety offerings…to take protective measures to increase their own safety,” Smith said.

Information on safety programs

During orientation, the campus police and community safety representatives distribute information and promote their safety programs. The residence staff also offers the same programs to students during orientation.

President of the student association for the University of Toronto, Jen Hassum, says she has complete faith in all security at the school based.

“We have an active and present campus police that not only provides safety in the community, but they also have programs on personal safety, protection of property, conflict safety and general community service referral,” Hassum said.

“I have trusted the University of Toronto safety and security here,” she said.