I’ve never felt safe on the UoL campus

Assaults on campus need to be tackled by the university


I was sexually assaulted on campus in broad day light in my second year, and as a result have never felt one hundred per cent safe on campus. From personal experience and hearing the worries and experiences of other students around me, I do not find the recent attacks on campus to be unusual or ‘isolated incidents’. The nature of sexual assault and violent physical attacks students have endured are clearly very different, but both reflect the lack of security on campus and cause understandable fear and worry amongst students.

From the Tab’s recent survey, 49 per cent of students reported that they had been victims of sexual assault. More specifically for students at Liverpool, 15 per cent reported that they had been raped and 39 per cent reported they had been sexually assaulted. These types of incidents may not always happen on campus, but the fact that they can and have should be enough for the university to have taken action long ago.

At the time of the incident, a year ago, I did not feel I could report my assault to the university because, like many victims of sexual assault, I felt too uncomfortable to talk about it, and nowhere had the university affirmed to me that I could. I did report it to the police but only because a police car was passing when I was in shock and crying. I explained where it had happened – on Mount Pleasant about ten seconds after exiting the Guild – which makes it fair to assume that the university would then be alerted of this rather than it being my responsibility to deal with.

It is good news and to be honest, reassuring to an extent, that the university have taken some action regarding these incidents. But, the university campus has never felt safe, and the recent incidents of assaults on students on campus reaffirm student fears. The safety of students on campus is the responsibility of the university and they should have taken effective action to prevent incidents of assault of any kind on campus this long ago.

They have urged for extra vigilance around campus at this time, particularly late at night and have encouraged use of the chaperone service for students who feel vulnerable in the area during the hours of darkness. However, from my experience, assaults do not just happen ‘after dark’ and requesting a chaperone around campus everyday isn’t something a student should feel required to do for their own safety. Campus should already be safe enough that students should not have to be worry about being assaulted, or feel it is their own responsibility to not get assaulted through calling for chaperones.

To tackle these issues, the university needs to make students feel as though they can contact them about their concerns. Its great that posters have been put up reminding people about the chaperone service, but what about posters reminding people that they can report sexual assault and where they can go to do this? Furthermore, the idea of a chaperone service simply reinforces the idea that it is a student’s responsibility to assure that they are not attacked rather than teaching people not to assault. The university needs to take steps to show it does not tolerate assault. This could be through heightened security including police patrols, executive protection security guards, especially for those living in campus halls, and even consent classes to tackle sexual assault specifically.

A University of Liverpool spokesperson responded, saying:

“The University of Liverpool is committed to providing a safe environment for our students, and to responding appropriately to any incidents.

We want to reassure our campus community and those affected by these crimes that we’re doing all we can to prevent this anti-social behaviour from taking place in the future. We have a good record of low crime rates on campus; however, any incident is unacceptable and we take every one very seriously.

 “We always urge both staff and students to report any incidents to us. We can only act on incidents or matters in a that we are aware of. For example, as a result of reports received regarding the recent incidents we have increased our security patrols of the campus. Additional support is also being provided by the Campus Police Officer, local Police Community Support Officers and a contracted security firm to provide further reassurance.

 “We have a proactive and vigilant Campus Support Team across campus, as well as in and around our halls of residence, in order to support a safe and secure crime-free environment for the University community.

 “In cases of emergency whilst on University grounds you should always call 2222 from an internal phone or 0151 794 2222 from a mobile or external phone. When away from University grounds in case of an emergency always call 999.

 “The University’s Student Services offer comprehensive support and welfare services through two teams: Student Welfare Advice and Guidance, and the Counselling and Mental Health Services.

 “Their role is to offer advice, support and information on a wide range of non-academic issues including finance, disability, issues relating to your general welfare and support for international students. These services have developed considerably over time to address a wide range of issues and will continue to evolve to meet the challenges facing students in the future.”