Proper campus lighting is a much better solution than Safe Walk

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Before any late night exam at the SFU Burnaby campus, most instructors are required to present students with the phone number for SFU’s Safe Walk program. The necessity behind such an action should be obvious; anyone who has walked to the bus or parking lot after one of these late sessions will quickly realize just how dark the school actually is.

And if you are someone who usually finishes an exam early, there’s a real possibility that you’ll be walking to your destination alone, all the while muttering amazement at how empty a campus as big as SFU can suddenly become.

Having recently done this myself, it is remarkable that a school can prove to be so incapable of providing adequate lighting come night time, while simultaneously justifying the fees it charges to its students.

After all its years of existence, there are some areas of the school — such as the AQ pond — that are so dark that one feels overwhelmed upon stepping out the door. And depending on where you exit from, the darkness can be accentuated even more by trees, which seem to punctuate the blackness all around you.

SFU is so dark at night that one may feel overwhelmed.

But then, this is where the Safe Walk program is intended to help. “Call the number,” the instructor will say, “and you will have someone escort you through the school.” But as well-intentioned as this is, the onus should not be on the student to ensure their safety. One reason for this is simple pride. As a young male student during my first year at SFU, I was certain that I was never going to make use of this offer.

Women are not exempt from such mentalities as well. A friend of mine thought it would have been too selfish of her to utilize the program simply for her sake, and decided to risk the lonely trek.

I should tell you that I’ve had two near physical altercations while walking on campus at night. The sight of me alone was enough to invite people of the worst character to indulge themselves, shadowing my every move with curses and threats, until I managed to run into a building or dissolve into a crowd of people, the unexpected sight of which calmed the haunting fears that come with being threateningly stalked.

I can assure you that at both junctures, escaping was the only thought that occupied my mind, not the fact that a dark campus lodged somewhere on a mountain peak afforded them this opportunity.

SFU has an obligation to safeguard its students. The lighting structure at SFU has to be improved. To this day, there are areas that are pitch dark, and to manoeuvre around campus, students must walk through these areas. As dangerous as the Surrey campus is, one can at least be sure of a thick population of active people walking around it. The Burnaby campus must create a safer environment, rather than encouraging students to call a number.

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