Student Safety On Campus

In light of the recent police presence on campus, Rachel Hains explores whether or not there is more the university could be doing to make students feel safer.

On the 13th of December, at 4:30 am, Surrey Police were called to campus, here at Royal Holloway, to attend to what has now been revealed as a stabbing. The incident occurred outside the SU shop, and whilst the victim is not in a life-threatening condition, nor a student here, it is enough to make some students question the safety of our campus. Is there more that the university could be doing to prevent incidents like this one?

Shortly after the incident was reported, the staff at the university issued a statement claiming we are “still one of the safest universities in the UK”. However, currently, the Times Higher Education survey 2018 has placed Royal Holloway as only joint 49th for being ranked as the ‘safest’ university in the UK. Clearly, students do not agree. Having spoken to numerous students, many are questioning could the university be doing more to keep us, students, safe?

True, it is impossible, due to the gates and roads around campus to restrict who can enter the university. Many members of the public are often seen walking around or through campus on their way to school, visiting the university or even walking their dogs. As much as students would like to limit this it is almost impossible unless the university were to hire permanent security guards to supervise all entrances and exits – which would be both costly and time-consuming. Not to mention that it would rather make the campus feel more like Holloway prison than Royal Holloway University.

It is also worth remembering that there are few incidents like this on campus. We are not constantly waking up to news reports of this nature, which in itself speaks for the safer nature of Egham. Also, the campus has security that patrols regularly, and can be reached at any time by students. There is also the campus watch scheme, as well as the fact that the university has made several improvements in the past few years, such as the 24-hour gate at the bottom of campus that requires a student card to open it after hours. Also, all guests must be registered with the SU if they wish to attend an event on campus, else they are denied entry.

The main danger is that a large majority of students are unaware of crime in their town or city until they fall prey to it. A lot of crimes and incidents can be prevented by simple actions from students as well as by university staff. Here is a list of some of the simplest, yet most important things we can do to keep ourselves and our campus safe:

  1. Where possible, not walking alone in dark areas, or late at night.
  2. Keep items of value out of sight as much as possible and do not carry around large amounts of cash.
  3. Taking the Union Bus home after a night out on campus. (It is only £1!)
  4. Carrying a personal alarm (many men see these as female accessories, but figures show that male students stand a much higher risk of being attacked in the street.)
  5. Calling security if you believe you see something or someone suspicious.

Royal Holloway prides itself on being a safe university, with a strong community at the heart of it. This incident, whilst troubling, is rare. However, if you are feeling worried, there is more advice and information about staying safe at university available on the student intranet for Royal Holloway, as well as on the SU website. Also, if you have any ideas about how to improve security then suggest them to either the SU or to the university itself.