The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

Students share concerns about security following incident at Murray Library

By in News
Students work at the U of S Murray Library on Oct. 5, 2019.

After a detainment made on university grounds last month, security is on students’ minds while on campus, particularly at night. 

A man was detained in Murray Library on Sept. 9, following a call from a student about suspicious behaviour. The man was found with his pants undone and photographing a female student’s feet. He was determined to be neither a student nor an employee of the university.  

In a statement to The Sheaf, Protective Services say that they appreciate the student’s quick thinking to notify them as it helped to de­-escalate the situation in a timely fashion. The man in question was handed over to the Saskatoon Police Service. While no charges were pressed, a warning was issued stating that he is not allowed back on campus. 

However, safety is still a concern among students who often study in Murray Library. University of Saskatchewan student *Laura Phillips says that while she has not experienced anything negative herself, she is still actively aware of what is going on around her and how that might impact her safety. 

“I know [of] incidents where people have gotten their things stolen,” Phillips said. “There’s that one guy that always asks to draw girls.” 

These are both examples of the safety issues students often hear about within the library. U of S Student *Katie Smith expressed similar theft concerns when asked about studying in Murray Library. 

“I am often studying by myself because I focus better on my own. I often sit in more populated areas so I can ask somebody to watch my stuff if I’m going to the bathroom or something,” Smith said. 

While theft of laptops and personal belongings within the library is often the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about safety, Smith is also concerned about the lack of security presence on campus in general, especially in the evenings. 

“If it’s up on the higher floors or later in the evening, I don’t really feel comfortable being here by myself. It’s not even just Murray Library — I don’t really feel comfortable being on campus late at night by myself,” Smith said. “I think that’s a safety issue that needs to be addressed.” 

The 2019 findings on the National College Health Assessment show the percentage of males who feel safe at the U of S goes from 89 per cent during the day down to 47 per cent at night-time. For females, the difference is greater; going from 78 per cent at daytime, only 12 per cent of women feel safe on the U of S campus at night.

Upon learning about the incident on Sept. 9, Smith was also reminded of a similarly unsettling experience she had on campus, stating that she was catcalled by two intoxicated males one evening in Upper Place Riel. 

Smith asks, “How is this promoting a good and safe learning environment if I am uncomfortable being here later than 6 p.m.?” 

In a statement made to the Sheaf, Protective Services stressed that student’s safety is their top priority and that they work with colleges and units around the clock to ensure everyone’s safety. 

“Our officers are available 24/7 and we also monitor over 700 cameras across campus, including a number of which are located in Murray Library,” the statement reads. “Together we build a safe community and we continue to encourage people to reach out to us when they need assistance.” 

Students are asked to contact Protective Services in the event of any suspicious behavior on campus. They can be reached 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 306-966-5555. 

*To respect the privacy of the individuals interviewed, their names have been changed.

Cailin Walkington

Photo: Victoria Becker/ Photo Editor

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