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August 5, 2013 | by  | in Homepage News |
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A-path-y

Despite being the scene of at least one assault this year and numerous complaints from students dating back to before 2010, the safety of a key campus walkway has not been improved.

A Dominion Post story published recently detailed how students catch taxis instead of walking the path linking the Boyd-Wilson Field and The Terrace, due to safety concerns. This is the most recent iteration of a problem which has been identified by the University, Wellington City Council, VUWSA and Te Aro School for at least three years, but has not yet been fixed. The University told the Dominion Post students reported safety concerns each year, and that one assault had occurred in the past few months.

Director of Campus Services Jenny Bentley implied the University has been working to improving the safety of the area, without addressing the fact that the path remains completely unlit.

“The University works closely with the Council, and also with Te Aro School, on the safety of people using the path, many of whom are Victoria students,” said Bentley, noting the pathway largely sits on land owned by the Wellington City Council.

“A number of initiatives have been taken in the past few years. For example, Victoria University and the Wellington City Council have a long-term partnership to work together to improve lighting and improve safety by cutting back trees and bushes.

“One current project is to install a camera in the car park at Te Aro School, something Victoria will fund.”

Students at the nearby Te Puni Village have been spoken to by police about avoiding the path, and that new initiatives are “regularly considered”.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt reported regular complaints from students about the path connecting the Boyd-Wilson Field and The Terrace, and described the path as a “perfect target” for potential attackers.

“The University works hard to ensure campus safety, but paths controlled by the Wellington City Council are consistently poorly lit, unsealed and unsafe. It’s time the Council got on to them,” said McCourt.

VUWSA undertook Campus Safety Audits in 2011 and 2012, but has not undertaken a Campus Safety Audit so far in 2013.

In July 2010, VUWSA pitched a Campus Safety Audit, however this was delayed for over a year. The first stage of this was consultation, and of the more than 4000 students who participated, many highlighted safety on campus as a key issue needing to be addressed. 26 per cent of women felt there was inadequate lighting and a lack of safe pathways on campus.

In 2012, another Campus Safety Audit found similar issues: over half the respondents reported feeling unsafe when on campus after dark, with 80 per cent stating their primary reason for feeling unsafe was poor lighting in many areas of campus. Students identified the same Boyd-Wilson–Terrace path as a hazard in addition to the Boyd-Wilson–Devon St path, and the accessway between the field and the student carpark on Wai-te-ata Rd.

“The pathway leading from the city to the Boyd-Wilson Field adjacent to Te Aro School is … narrow and poorly lit, something that is not helped by the overgrowth of foliage around the path,” the Audit read.

In the past, VUWSA operated a Campus Angels service, where ‘Campus Angels’ would walk students home, or to public transport, late at night. Campus Angels would be situated at the Kelburn Library, Te Aro atrium, and Law School Library between 7 and 10 pm.

The service was discontinued in 2012, due to its high cost and relatively poor usage compared to other services.

Te Aro School Principal Sue Clement also expressed concern over the path to VUWSA, regarding the danger to pedestrians and children presented by the path.

Students who feel at risk can contact Campus Care 24/7 for any emergency on 463 9999.

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