Strikes Campus Community
by: Deidre Pipher
sightings that appeared on UWO campus in the summer
have subsided at least for now says University
Police Constable Wendy McGowan.
that although there have been no recurrences,
there also have been no arrests and so students
should still be aware of the issue and take the
proper safety precautions.
did not go any further but there may still be
a risk. It just has not surfaced yet. It will
always be a risk because we havent identified
who did it."
which appeared on bathroom and tunnel walls and
in the hallways of several buildings, depicted
women in a violent and degrading manner. The violent
connotations of the graffiti led to the Western
Foot Patrol being run during the summer. This
program is usually in effect for the fall and
says that it is circumstances like this that show
just how important it is to always maintain a
high safety code on campus.
was very much an awareness issue to always maintain
and be progressive when it comes to safety on
campus. It makes us aware of how vulnerable we
Womens Issues Network Coordinator and Chair
of Media Watch, says that there is more to be
concerned about than just words.
people think its just graffiti and its
no big deal. They dont realize that words
can hurt just as much as physical actions."
Words can instill fear and this can have a damaging
impact on womens lives. Women begin to limit
their activities to certain times of day and geographical
areas. A 1994 Statistics
Canada Survey (Violence Against Women survey)
found that 12% of Canadian women are afraid to
go out alone and a significant portion of women
also avoid going to certain places at certain
times. Continuum theory is a model for
understanding the links between hateful words
at one end of a continuum of violence with acts
of physical violence at the other end. Hateful
words and physical violence are highly inter-related
and this link gives graffiti its power to harm.
Graffiti is therefore an act of violence.
not the only targets of violent graffiti. Other
marginalized groups can also be the targets of
such hate material. Whether the writing is sexist,
homophobic, anti-Semitic, or racist, or discriminatory
in any other way, the impact is always detrimental.
can contribute to the creation of unwelcoming
and unsafe environments through the reinforcement
of damaging stereotypes. The violent nature of
graffiti further sends out a threat. Graffiti
may often reflect deeply held yet unspoken beliefs
of the dominant culture about those members of
groups considered "outsiders". On a
campus such as Western, this has the power to
divide a diverse community working to end discrimination.
students to always be responsible, yet stresses
that safety at Western is top notch. She praises
the Western safety program, stating that it has
become a model for other universities. "I
know that some individuals who work in similar
fields look towards Western as being very progressive."
Westerns Equity Services Officer, agrees
saying she is very impressed with the safety programs
at the university. She says, however, that they
will always be striving to achieve higher goals.
havent yet achieved all our goals. There
are areas that need improvement, including an
emphasis on prevention that begins with perpetrators
rather than focusing on victims. Maintaining a
safe campus is an ongoing process."
she wishes to see expanded is the awareness of
acquaintance related crime. She says that the
downside of over-reporting such crimes as graffiti
is that it reinforces the myth of "stranger
danger". And, she says, although students
should be aware of this, they should also be conscious
of acquaintance crime such as date rape. Crimes
do sometimes occur at night when, for example,
a woman is walking alone, she says, but most assaults
against women occur within the context of interpersonal
violence. Only 9% of all
women in Canada are murdered by a stranger, compared
to 39% spouse or ex-spouse, 23% friend or acquaintance,
13% other intimate partner, and 18% family member
(Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Homicide
Survey, 1995). Educational programs already
in effect, such as STRIVE, do focus on the interpersonal
nature of much violence. At the same time, graffiti
contributes to myths and stereotypes which reinforce
do you do if you see any offensive graffiti? First
of all, dont erase it. It may provide important
evidence. Second, be sure to immediately report
the graffiti to UPD (661-3333) or Equity Services
(661-3334). And should you experience any difficult
emotions as a result of the graffiti, please contact
the Student Development Centre or Student Health
Services for confidential counselling.
and Hart agree that safety on Western campus is
a top priority. Recently McGowan incorporated
new safety initiatives that include the BoxFit
aerobics class and a Marshall Arts program. She
says it is programs like these that get students
involved in their own safety.
need interactive programs where they feel comfortable,
where they learn something, and where they enjoy
initiatives include the Blue Emergency Lights
surrounding the campus, a Responsible Drinking
Program, STRIVE, Student Emergency Response Team,
Campus Watch Program, and an affiliation agreement
with London/Middlesex Crime Stoppers. The Presidents
Committee on the Safety of Women on Campus also
hosts a web site http://www.uwo.ca/safety
where students can find information and
links to other resources. Media Watch also has
a web site at http://www.uwo.ca/mediawatch.