This guest post is written by Nicole Enns, a third-year marketing student at the University of Calgary.
The culture surrounding safety has changed drastically over the past 50 years. We have moved from a time when seatbelts were non-existent and children under 10 were walking themselves kilometres to school, to a society where children are kept safe on their 40-inch leash and fear is often our society’s driving force. Consequently, it is not a surprise that mobile safety apps have become increasingly popular over the past few years, especially for schools.
When I first started at the University of Calgary I was extremely intimidated. Not only were the classes much larger than anything I was used to, the campus was massive – and I was expected to navigate it all on my own without having any sort of safety network? How was I supposed to feel safe walking to my car late at night if I didn’t have anyone watching over me? Was my safety going to be a major concern throughout my entire university career? These were just a few questions I had running through my mind when I first started school, but this should not be the case for all students. Students should not have to feel nervous while on campus. We should feel safe and have confidence that our school has our back, and for this reason many more schools are seeing the importance of campus safety apps.
Campus Safety Apps and Community Engagement
In 2015, CBC News Canada stated that “the number of sexual assaults reported to Canadian post-secondary schools is surprisingly low, and an indication that they are doing a poor job of encouraging students to come forward” (Sawa and Ward, 2015). This reveals a major issue for Canadian campuses: not only do students feel unsafe on campus but there is a lack of community engagement within post-secondary schools. As a result of that, and the fact that nearly all post-secondary students have a smartphone, many schools across Canada have started implementing mobile safety apps; channels that increase the awareness of campus safety and provide a portal for those affected to come forward and report incidents.
Now it is time for students to start realizing the value that these applications can bring to our university experience. These applications can ease the intimidation of starting at a new school and, even more importantly, they break down the tension around the somewhat faux pas subject of school violence. Students are then able to feel comfortable reporting assaults or suspicious behaviour on campus and many more of us are able to be assisted in emergency situations.
Mobile safety apps are meant to help us feel safe on campus. On top of that, they are tools that can help build a community and be a support system for all students. They help give us a voice.
Become an Ambassador
Apathy is a major issue for all new apps, and when it comes to campus safety apps the most prominent problem is a lack of concern from students. To many of us, campus safety apps may seem useless or irrelevant – ironically, because we may already feel safe on campus. We need to start looking at the bigger picture and take action to ensure we are part of a smart, safe campus.
Becoming an ambassador for other students around campus is a great way to get started. Not only will it create a safer environment for students on campus but it will promote your campus as a leader in safety innovation. As an example, SafeWalk is a program that many schools have implemented. It allows students to call for assistance if they are at school late at night and want someone to walk with them through campus. It ensures that all students are safe when walking around campus while also increasing overall campus security.
If your school does not have this program, there may be a great opportunity to take initiative and help students around you who may not have any other support system. If you see a fellow student who looks lost or flustered, put in that extra effort and see if you can help. Not only will it make their day, it will encourage others to do the same. Promote your school as a leader – not only in academia but in safety and community involvement.
Be Smart, Stay Safe
Adopting your school’s mobile alerting system is one way to enhance your safety while at school and to improve the well-being of all your fellow classmates. Mobile alerting systems need to be taken seriously and should be adopted – both for your own safety as well as for the safety of those around you. Download your mobile app today and demonstrate to others that you are part of a school that supports community engagement.
Be proud of your school. Who wouldn’t want to be part of a smart, safe campus?