‘Avoid walking alone on campus,’ SFU warns Burnaby students. Seriously?

Chris Campbell

An emailed “safety alert” was sent out through the SFU Community Trust on Monday afternoon, warning people about a “disturbing incident” involving a man trying to grab a woman on the Burnaby Mountain trails near the campus.

I received the email because I signed up recently for notifications.

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The alert was signed by Mark Lalonde, SFU chief safety officer and described an incident that happened Sunday night and was covered by the NOW on Monday.

Included in the alert were some “safety reminders,” like calling 911 if you feel threatened. (Let me write that one down…)

And then there was this scary safety tip: “Avoid walking alone on campus and/or the Burnaby Mountain trails. If you are walking alone on campus, consider using SFU's 24/7 Safewalk program.

It’s those first five words that really struck me: “avoid walking alone on campus.”

Think of the implications of those words. I’m sure SFU means well, but that’s a frightening thing to tell women who chose SFU for their post-secondary education. (It didn’t specifically say “women should avoid walking alone on campus,” but considering that this tip is attached to a notice about a woman being attacked, well, the connection is made.)

I’m sure women would prefer to attend a school in which it was safe to walk alone on campus, (Will this be included in SFU's recruiting literature?)

The onus always seems to be on women to do things to protect themselves, as opposed to institutions doing a better job of providing a safe environment. Or, if you want to dig deeper, teaching men not to be predators.

I live next to SFU. I see women walking alone on campus all the time – as it should be.

They deserve a safe campus and to not be frightened by alarmist warnings.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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