September 30, 2020

BY CARSON DESHEVY-RENOUF

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Students at Conestoga College, returning or new, may feel overwhelmed or stressed as the school year begins once again. Fortunately, thanks to Security Services, their safety at the college is one thing they don’t need to stress about.

According to Kirsty Bradley-McMurtrie, director of Security Services, there are many different utilities available that students can take advantage of while at Conestoga.

“We are responsible for all emergency response … we look after safety plans … lost and found, any issues or concerns as well as training (for multiple safety programs at the college). We are also responsible for lockers, parking (and a variety of other services)” she said.

In addition to the long list of services offered by the security office, which is located across from the library on the Doon campus, they also act as an information desk. Students can walk in and ask for directions or referrals to on-campus resources at any time, as the security office is open 24/7.

If students want to get into classrooms after official college hours (and have their professor’s permission), whether it be to finish assignments or grab some forgotten items, Security Services is the place to visit to get that access.

In terms of the safety of students, services such as the Walksafe program are essential in keeping the college environment safe and inviting.
“We employ students through the work study program (which is offered for students who require financial aid). (Walksafe) is a service offered in the evening to anyone on campus, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a student, for escorts to their vehicle, residence or to a home that is close by,” Bradley-McMurtrie said.

Although Walksafe staff are not security guards, they are equipped with a radio so they have direct contact with the Security office should any issue arise.

Another safety measure in place at Conestoga are strategically placed “emergency buttons” around the campus in designated emergency zones. If a dangerous situation were to arise, students can go to a zone that has a small yellow box that harbours the “emergency button,” which, when pressed, alerts Security Services A camera will remain focused on that area until help arrives.

In addition, every classroom phone has a security button that is a direct link to Security Services. There are also around 200 cameras on campus that are being “progressively upgraded from analog to digital” with additional technology to give Security eyes all around the college’s campus.

If students at any point fear for their safety, not just in school but in any aspect of their lives, Security Services has measures in place to help.

“If a student has a concern for their safety, whether it be against another member of the college community or just a general member of the community, we will do a personal safety plan. That provides them with information for safety zones as well as contact numbers if they need assistance,” Bradley-McMurtrie said.

There are also accessible resources available like the free Conestoga mobile safety application for mobile devices that gives students a quick way to contact Security.

“We didn’t want ours to be just a ‘security app,’ that’s why we called ours a safety app … it does have your emergency contacts, so it gives you a direct connection to Security and 9-1-1. You have your ‘Safety Toolbox’ that contains a flashlight and loud alarm. You can also send your location using Google co-ordinates via email to Security if you are not in a position to talk. It is also there if you need to report suspicious activity,” Bradley-McMurtrie said.

The app also contains resources that can connect students to academic counselling and personal counselling, providing them with information on what is available on campus. In terms of personal counselling the app also contains direct contact to Good2Talk, a 24-hour post-secondary student counselling phone service.

“We are trying to get away from ‘look it up on the Internet’ and trying to make everything available at everybody’s fingertips,” Bradley-McMurtrie said.

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