Science & Technology Editor
York’s recent decision to arm York security with batons and handcuffs is not a bad one. Yes, it shows students how badly things have been run these last few years. But by making this call, York is being honest about its current situation. By arming their security with batons and handcuffs, York is finally admitting that it has a safety problem, and finally taking action.
A decade ago, when the Ontario labour ministry told universities they “would need to equip security staff better for interventions,” York did not listen. Instead, administration told security not to risk their safety by intervening. In the years since the province’s ignored recommendation we have seen how wrong York was. From the very beginning, they should have equipped security properly, increased the security force, and adopted an intervention policy.
Knowing we now have this policy will make the campus feel a lot safer. As soon as people see York security with batons and handcuffs it will cause potential wrongdoers to think twice about trying anything on campus that might put students in danger.
But it’s not only about intimidation Assault, both physical and sexual, can be prevented. A woman being verbally and physically assaulted at The Ab on a Wednesday night or a sexual assault in the Seneca@York building at 4 p.m. — these things will be prevented from happening ever again, with readily armed security allowed to take matters in their own hands.
Absolute security does not exist anywhere and no campus is absolutely safe. But at the very least, York can be as safe as other schools. Any other projects — even the $50-million science and engineering building — should be secondary.
A heavier security presence, armed with batons and handcuffs, will definitely change the experience at York. But if alumni are going to be proud of their alma mater, it must be the safest university in Canada. The new policy direction shows we’re just beginning to start that process
With files from In Praise of Security Theater by Bruce Schiener, the Toronto Star and Excalibur