THE EDITOR: This is a letter addressing the distress the UWI student body faces on a daily basis. In light of the recent headlines purporting to the clash between UWI students and police, the intention of our protest have been sidelined. Let us not forget that the real issue at hand is the spike in criminal activities in and around the campus.
As a female student, renting near campus for the past four years, the fear of being robbed or raped at gunpoint has led not only to myself but many other young women and men, being crippled with fear and anxiety. The criminal elements are as bold as ever and are now harassing students in broad daylight.
The university administration has been placing their focus (what very little they may have) on the wrong end of the situation. More focus has been placed on warning students, telling them to walk in groups, avoid walking late at night and in dimly lit areas of the campus and to wear their University ID. Less focus has been placed on tackling flaws in the security system.
As a female UWI student who is fearful for her life and the lives of fellow classmates, here are some solutions that can be implemented. Firstly, proper training should be given to our security officers with regard to interaction and profiling. Many times we are met with disrespectful, hostile guards, dwindling students’ confidence in their ability to secure the campus and its users. Profiling will aid in spotting any suspicious elements on the compound.
Secondly, UWI students are equipped with machine readable smart IDs. There should be the administration of ID card readers to the security at all entrances allowing students to scan in before entry to compound. These security should also be given smart devices, such that in the event a student forgets his UWI ID, his relevant information can be inputted in the system and a temporary paper pass can be assigned.
This can decrease the presence of unwanted individuals on campus. Thirdly, security should be implemented in every entrance and car park and a security booth should be placed in the crime hotspots on campus. Many entrances and car parks are unmanned allowing for theft and robberies. These gaps should be filled.
Fourthly, the camera system should be checked to ensure it is working. Too many incidences have happened with cameras not functioning on campus. Lastly, the perimetre fence must be repaired as there are many holes and gaps from which anyone can enter the campus to commit crimes and leave after doing so.
Criminal activities have been an ongoing problem at this university. Too often cases are swept under the carpet so as to avoid tainting the image of this prestigious tertiary learning institution. The university is made of a body of intelligent people, willing to assist in finding a solution for this problem.
It is about time the collective voice of the student body is heard as we are the ones coming face to face with the bandit and rapist. It is about time our minds are put at ease so we can focus all of our energies on our studies. Our safety must be a priority. We pray for the day when our only stress would be assignment deadlines, presentations and exams and we wouldn’t have to worry if a gun will be pointed at our heads or our clothes as well as our dignity are stripped from our bodies.
Carissa N Nanan
Concerned and tired UWI student