While rare, emergency situations are not unheard of on campus
// Natahsha Prakash

“She was executed … she wasn't given a fighting chance at all," said Roseleen Batalia to Global National, of her late sister Maple Batalia. An amateur model and health and sciences SFU student, Batalia was brutally murdered in a parkade on SFU Surrey campus late at night after a study session with her friends on Sept. 28.

Though no suspect has been identified to date, Roseleen Batalia said she will not rest until her sister’s killer is brought to justice. "A message to the criminals who executed my sister at SFU Surrey on Sept. 28, 2011: you can run, but you can't hide,” she wrote online. “Your mothers can only shelter you for so long … Playing God with a gun, prison is gonna be hell."

While this murder has sent shockwaves across the Lower Mainland, the death has also gotten Capilano students thinking about their safety on campus. Personal security is a concern that lurks in the back of many students’ minds, and to this end, Capilano has a security team in place, working 24/7 to ensure that campus is safe for everyone. “

We’re looking for things that are out of place to prevent situations before they happen,” says Graeme Kennedy, Security Site Supervisor. “Anything from loose bike locks, holes in walls, or even loose floor tiles.” Security are fully trained in First Aid, often checking with students who have known medical problems and offering aid to those in need. For those who are not familiar, there is an equipped First Aid room in the ground floor of Arbutus, next to the CapCard centre.

In the event of an emergency, there are several procedures in place to ensure the situation is quickly brought under control. There are nine emergency phone beacons around campus, which, when activated, immediately alert security that there is a situation. Within minutes, the security personnel will arrive in a First Response vehicle. They can offer immediate First Aid; however, they recognize that some situations may need more highly trained assistance. “We are not doctors and we don’t pretend that we are,” says Kennedy. Security is on scene to be the first respondents, to call 9-1-1 if necessary, and to assist emergency personnel in any way necessary once they are on scene.

There are also things that students can do to ensure they will not find themselves in emergency situations in the first place. “It’s about being aware of the possibilities: follow your instinct. It’s [also] about being proactive and communicating more,” says Kennedy. “Work in groups and inform yourselves on the procedures. Be aware of transit schedules, university opening and closing hours, and don’t hesitate to contact security.” He also mentions a service called “SafeWalk” in which students may call security to escort them to the bus stop or to their cars. This may be especially useful for students taking night classes.

Around campus in cased displays are posters that list the protocol for various emergency situations – anything from bomb threats to hot summer days on campus. Kennedy recommends that students familiarize themselves with these procedures, as this information is vital to students staying safe on campus. Violent intruders and bombs, while extremely rare and unlikely occurrences, must also be prepared for with the same seriousness. In situations like this, “it’s about whatever buys you time; avoid ground level/easy eye levels, stay together in groups, keep away from windows and set up barricades,” says Kennedy.

One potential safety concern that has risen in prominence much more recently is the check-in feature on ubiquitous social networking websites such as Facebook. A new addition to Facebook’s ever-increasing prominence in day-to-day life, users are now able to “check in” online to places that they have physically arrived at; for example, the Capilano library, or the CSU lounge. When asked about the potential safety implications of a feature like this, Kennedy says, “We use it naively; we are still evolving our use with it [and] it has to be treated with respect.”

Kennedy took note of the recent Stanley Cup riots, where the use of social media helped identify those who many of the rioters. However, broadcasting one’s location can be “really dangerous,” as Katie Linendoll, a “tech expert” noted in a story for CBS News. “If I say that I'm on vacation in Los Angeles for a week, that also says my place is completely empty for a week. If you have somebody kind of semi-cyber-stalking you or somebody upset with you, you say you're gonna be at the mall – not always a good idea.”

While overall, most students agree that the Capilano campus is a relatively safe place at all hours of the day, that belief should not be taken for granted. Students should endeavour to make themselves aware of the safety procedures that exist on campus in the event of emergencies or physical danger. Two of the most important parts of ensuring a safe campus are watching for others who might be in need of assistance, and not hesitating to call security if there is anything that appears suspicious. In the end, security personnel are on campus to ensure that all students are safe, comfortable, and able to pursue their studies without fear or endangerment.

// Natahsha Prakash, Writer
// Photo by Natahsha Prakash

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